National Energy Board Reviews Drilling Policy for Beaufort Sea

The National Energy Board (NEB) will hold a written hearing to review its policy on same season relief well capability for oil and gas drilling operations in the Beaufort Sea.

Same season relief well capability is the ability to drill a relief well in the same season in which the original well was drilled. The practice is intended to help control a blowout and reduce the impact of hydrocarbons being released into the Arctic Ocean. The NEB regulates these drilling activities under the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act.

Imperial Oil Resources Ventures Limited (Imperial) applied to the NEB on October 23, 2009 for an advance ruling on its plan for well control for future drilling in the Beaufort Sea. However, the NEB cannot predetermine whether, or on what terms, it will grant an approval to drill a well. Therefore, the NEB has decided to conduct a generic review of its policy for same season relief well capability calling it "an issue of significant public concern."

"The NEB believes that gathering more information about this issue, including the views of the public, will be beneficial to both potential applicants and to the National Energy Board when deciding whether or not to require same season relief well capability," said presiding Panel Member Georgette Habib.

Anyone who is interested in taking part in the written hearing must register as a participant no later than February 22, 2010. A technical conference for participants is planned for early in the proceeding. More information on this hearing process can be found online at

Once the hearing wraps up, the presiding Panel Member will report to the NEB with recommendations on same season relief well capability in the Beaufort Sea.