By Ellie Reddin
January 26, 2016
For the third time in the past four years, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board has granted a one-year extension to Corridor Resources exploration licence on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and waived the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension.
This extension was granted because the board has not conducted the public and Aboriginal consultations required as part of the environmental assessment for this project.
For the past two years, the board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out.
It says it will announce plans for consultations “at a later date.”
Does the board intend to keep on delaying the consultations indefinitely and continue to give Corridor Resources free licence extensions?.
The current licence extension for Corridor Resources is just one in a series of irresponsible, biased actions and decisions on the part of the board. In 2012, the board contracted with AMEC to update the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Newfoundland portion of the Gulf. The purpose of the SEA was to assist the board “in determining whether further exploration rights should be offered in whole or in part for the Western NL Offshore Area.” While the SEA was being conducted, the board issued a call for bids, including for licences within the Gulf. Clearly, the board assumed that further exploration rights would be offered in the Gulf, regardless of the findings of the SEA.
The SEA update report from AMEC discussed: numerous risks to marine species and the fisheries and tourism industries, the presence of many sensitive areas and endangered species, important data gaps, lack of social acceptability, and the complex and deteriorating state of the Gulf. The logical conclusion would have been that the known risks outweigh the potential benefits. Although the authors of a report normally write the conclusions, the board decided to write the conclusions itself. Predictably, they concluded that “petroleum exploration activities generally can be undertaken in the Western NL area…”
Only two of the five Gulf provinces have set up Offshore Petroleum Boards: Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Nova Scotia Board ceased any activity in the Gulf in 1999. If the NL Board did not have a pro-petroleum industry bias, it would also cease all activity in the Gulf.
The roles of the NL Board include facilitating hydrocarbon resource development in the NL Offshore and protecting the environment. As noted in the Wells Report of 2010, these are conflicting mandates. Clearly, the NL Board shows by its actions and decisions that protecting the Gulf ecosystem is not a priority.
Given the failure of the NL Board to act in a responsible manner, Save Our Seas and Shores P.E.I. is calling on the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador governments to remove the board’s mandate pertaining to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Save Our Seas and Shores-P.E.I. Chapter
Source: Journal Pioneer