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Canada mulls penalties for offshore oil

June 19, 2013 at 6:58 AM

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, June 19 (UPI) -- The Canadian government announced plans to increase the liability for energy exploration companies working in Atlantic and arctic waters.

Exxon Mobil announced plans in January to produce more than 700 million barrels of oil from the Hebron oil field off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Canadian Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan has said oil spills from offshore platforms in the region may present a risk to the marine environment.

Provincial and federal administrators proposed an increase in corporate absolute liability to nearly $1 billion for energy explorers working off the eastern Canadian coast. Provincial leaders said the increase is part of a responsible resource development plan.

"Our government takes the development and management of these resources seriously and we look forward to finalizing the proposed changes to legislation that will strengthen and improve our offshore regime," Newfoundland and Labrador Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall said in a statement Tuesday.

The proposal would also give provincial and federal administrators the authority to pursue financial compensation for environmental damages from operators responsible for any potential oil spills.

No date was given for when the proposals could become law.

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