Canada Creates Panel to Study Drilling Off Pacific Coast

The Canadian Government will create a panel to study lifting a 1972 moratorium on exploration offshore British Columbia. Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal said the panel would study the economic and environmental impact of exploration drilling around the Queen Charlotte Islands, just south of the Alaska panhandle. Geologists have estimated that the Queen Charlotte Basin has reserves of approximately10 billion barrels of oil and 26 trillion cubic feet of gas, which would make it one of Canada's largest energy reserves.

The minister cautioned that the panel's creation did not guarantee that the moratorium would be lifted. Dhaliwal said the study would look at both the scientific issues about the environmental dangers of drilling in the area and public opinion about lifting the moratorium. The report is expected to be completed early next year.