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The Canadian Experience in Frontier Environmental Protection

JONES, GORDON H., Alconsult International Ltd., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Early Canadian frontier exploration (from 1955 onshore and from 1966 for offshore drilling) caused insignificant public concern. The 1967-1968 Torrey Canyon Tanker and Santa Barbara disasters roused public opinion and governments. In Canada, 1969-1970 Arctic gas blowouts, a tanker disaster, and damage to the "Manhattan" exacerbated concerns and resulted in new environmental regulatory constraints.

From 1970, the Arctic Petroleum Operations Association learned to operate safely with environmental responsibility. It studied physical environment for design criteria, and the biological and human environment to ameliorate impact. APOA's research projects covered sea-ice, permafrost, sea-bottom, oil-spills, bird and mammal migration, fish habitat, food chains, oceanography, meteorology, hunters'/trappers' harvests, etc. In 1971 Eastcoast Petroleum Operators' Association and

Alaska Oil and Gas Association followed APOA's cooperative research model. EPOA stressed icebergs and fisheries. Certain research was handled by the Canadian Offshore Oil Spill Research Association. By the mid-1980s these associations had undertaken $70,000,000 of environmentally oriented research, with equivalent additional work by member companies on specific needs and similar sums by Federal agencies often working with industry on complementary research. The frontier associations then merged with the Canadian Petroleum Association, already active environmentally in western Canada.

Working with government and informing environmental interest groups, the public, natives, and local groups (fishermen, hunters, trappers, etc.), most Canadian frontier petroleum operations proceeded with minimal delay and environmental disturbance. Nevertheless, perceived potential environmental or fisheries disturbance led to moratoria on Georges Bank, the West Coast, and Lancaster Sound and slowed Arctic drilling, production, or pipeline plans.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)