Montréal, January 19 2016
Against all odds, the Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the Board), with the approval of both federal and Newfoundland Natural Resources ministers (James Carr and Siobhan Coady), extended Corridor Resources’ exploration license EL1105 on the Old Harry site for an extra year, a license that was set to expire last Friday January 15. This favour was granted without even requiring the mandatory one million dollars drilling deposit to obtain an extension. It is the third time in four years that Corridor obtains such a special privilege, a situation that is strongly denounced by the St. Lawrence Coalition.
The Board justifies this exploration license extension by saying it is necessary in order to hold public as well as First Nations consultations. Yet, ex-Environment Minister Peter Kent had already asked the Board in August 2011, over four years ago, to hold such “extensive public consultations”. The Board did set up an inter-provincial consultation in September 2011, to be under the direction of Commissioner Bernard Richard, but it was canceled in February 2012 by the Board, without justification, a few days before it officially started.
“The required consultations have still not been held. And now the Board dares to say that the extension is needed to perform consultations that they have been pushing forward for the last four years. This is disrespectful to all the citizens, scientists, fishermen, First Nations, who, for many years, have had deep concerns about the dangers of such offshore drillings” says Sylvain Archambault, biologist (SNAP Québec) and spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.
In the Magdalen Islands, people are also distressed with this news: “The Corridor Resources drilling project, a mere 80 km from the archipelago, stirs up major concerns with numerous citizens and organizations on the islands. During the past few years, Magdalen Islanders have voiced regularly their opposition to the drilling project and their fears over the impacts of opening the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the oil industry” emphasizes Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles.
“Corridor Resources is a junior company with no offshore experience and limited financial means. Even if the firm struggles to fulfill its license obligations and survives from extension to extension since 2008, it still holds two licenses on the Quebec portion of Old Harry, licenses currently under moratorium. Why would Quebec take enormous risks by lifting its moratorium and associating itself with a junior company struggling to keep its license in Newfoundland?” asks Christian Simard of Nature Québec.
“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is host to great biological diversity and its durable fishing and tourism industries should be encouraged” says Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Project Manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “For many years, numerous groups, citizens and scientists, have asked the federal minister of Natural Resources to work in a concerted manner with the five Gulf provinces to put in place a true integrated management of the Gulf. As a matter of fact, the federal government has recently committed to better protect Canada’s marine areas, including the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal government should invite the provinces to work together for better protection of the Gulf, rather than giving a free-pass to Corridor Resources” concludes Mr Toussaint.
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The St. Lawrence Coalition is composed of 85 organizations and associations, including First Nations, and over 5000 individuals from various economic sectors and the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence Coalition is overseen by a steering committee composed of Attention FragÎles, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Québec) and Nature Québec.
Please download the St. Lawrence Coalition report on oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence “Gulf 101”