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MPs to quiz oil giants BP, Shell and Cairn Energy on Arctic drilling safety

MPs are to question UK oil and gas companies on the safety of drilling in the Arctic, after fears that retreating ice will see a damaging rush to exploit billions of barrels of untapped reserves in the region.

The committee’s remit will include the entire area of the Arctic Circle and both onshore and offshore drilling Photo: Bloomberg News

By 8:00AM GMT Sunday 08 Jan 2012

BP, Shell and Cairn Energy are understood to be on a draft list of companies to be called to give evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee in the spring for its Protecting the Arctic inquiry, announced on Sunday.

Joan Walley MP, the committee’s chairman, said the inquiry would examine “whether it is even possible to drill for oil and gas safely in such remote regions”.

She said: “Rising global temperatures – caused by the burning of fossil fuels – ironically look set to clear the way for a new oil and gas gold rush in the Arctic. We will be looking at what the UK Government can do to ensure that the Arctic is protected.”

The committee’s remit will include the entire area of the Arctic Circle and both onshore and offshore drilling.

Last month Shell won drilling rights for the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Circle, subject to conditions including stopping drilling 38 days before the ice is expected to appear, to allow time for any spill to be cleared before the annual freeze makes a clean-up difficult.

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