WWF files lawsuit over Shell’s ‘expired’ Arctic oil permits

WWF-Canada is taking legal action against Shell’s Arctic oil and gas exploration permits. The environmental group believes they “continue to obstruct conservation efforts” in Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, which is said […]

Register now!

By Priyanka Shrestha

WWF-Canada is taking legal action against Shell’s Arctic oil and gas exploration permits.

The environmental group believes they “continue to obstruct conservation efforts” in Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, which is said to be one of the world’s richest areas for marine mammal and harbours one of the highest densities of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic.

The lawsuit claims Shell Canada’s permits for offshore exploration, which was issued more than 40 years ago, are expired and therefore invalid.

WWF-Canada, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, is asking the court to confirm the expiry of the oil and gas permits on the border of the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area.

It is also calling on the court to order an update of registry records under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to indicate the expiry of those permits.

Paul Crowley, WWF-Canada’s Vice President of Arctic conservation, said: “In the past, the federal government bureaucracy has relied on these expired permits to propose narrower boundaries for the Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area, over objections from Inuit communities. So long as these permits are allowed to stand, they will continue to obstruct efforts to ensure Lancaster Sound’s ecosystems and wildlife get the protection they need.”

A Shell spokesperson added: “We are aware of a court application filed by World Wildlife Fund Canada and are currently assessing next steps.”

Last year Shell stopped exploring for oil and gas in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea and the US announced plans to cancel two Arctic leases for potential exploration.