EU deal could discourage oil drilling in Arctic waters

Requires oil firms to prove they could clean-up spills in extreme conditions

Press release - February 21, 2013
Brussels, 21 February 2013 – Greenpeace has welcomed a preliminary agreement between the European Parliament and the Council over an EU law on oil and gas offshore drilling. If confirmed, the law could limit or even prevent oil drilling under harsh conditions, such as those in the Arctic, where cleaning up an oil spill is impossible.

The agreement, negotiated between the representative of the European Parliament, Ivo Belet, and the Irish presidency, representing EU governments, would oblige oil companies to assess the ability to clean up an oil spill in difficult conditions, such as prolonged darkness, ice cover or rough seas, where standard response procedures cannot be used. The agreement also calls for international political action to promote the highest standards on prevention, preparedness and response to Arctic oil pollution.

However, the proposed agreement would still allow discrepancies between safety regimes in different EU countries. The European Maritime and Safety Agency (EMSA) will not have an increased role in supervision and control. Greenpeace also regrets that compensation for oil spill damages for affected fishermen or tourism operators is not included in the deal.

Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said: “This deal on the EU safety law for offshore drilling would go some way to ensuring that oil companies think long and hard before they embark on a risky adventure in the Arctic. Recent incidents off the coast of Alaska show that companies like Shell should simply not operate in one of the planet’s most fragile environments. Unfortunately, this deal still leaves too much wiggle room in its implementation.”

To become law, the agreement must now be endorsed by the European Parliament and governments. Once this happens, Greenpeace urges EU governments to implement this law in the strictest possible manner, setting in place a real safety regime.

Joris den Blanken
– Greenpeace EU climate and energy policy director: +32 (0)476 961375 (mobile),

Ed Davitt – Greenpeace EU communications officer: +32 (0)476 988584(mobile),


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