The existence of comprehensive Arctic regulatory regimes is paramount for ensuring the safety of Arctic field development when recovering the vast Arctic oil and gas resources (estimated at 25% of world reserves). Several Arctic coastal countries such as Canada, USA, and Russia have successfully undertaken year-round Arctic drilling. Companies such as Dome Petroleum’s subsidiary, Canadian Marine Drilling Limited (CANMAR), Esso Resources Canada, and Gulf Canada have pioneered such Arctic operations since the early 1970s. With almost 70% of the world's Arctic reserves, Russia is presently leading Arctic drilling and production.. Russia has comprehensive Arctic regulations in place and has been cooperating with Norway resolving Arctic issues through venues such as the Barents 2020 project and the resolution of their dispute over Arctic territories in 2010.
This paper presents the current state of the regulatory schemes of the five Arctic coastal countries. Additionally, the paper reviews the ISO Arctic standard ISO 19906:2010 for practical applicability and recommended safety factors (partial action and resistance). The paper identifies the necessary regulatory elements that regulators must address in the future.
The regulatory regimes are the laws used to govern Arctic offshore field development activities and the regulations that provide details on how to comply with these laws. The regulatory regime applies to environmental protection, safety, employment standards and worker safety, health protection, emergency planning, oil spill response, and liability for accidents. Arctic countries use either a prescriptive approach, specifying the methodology to be applied for achieving the goals of the regulator, or performance/goal-based approach, identifying the goals that must be achieved while allowing operators the flexibility to choose the methodology that fits their proposed technology. A mixed approach is also adopted by some countries. The objective is to demonstrate the need for guidance in the form of standards and regulations.