PEI Save Our Seas and Shores opposes new exploration license – Atlantic Accord act is being misused

Save Our Seas and Shores, PEI Chapter
c/o Voluntary Resource Centre
81 Prince St.
Charlottetown PEI
C1A 4R3

September 26, 2016

Hon. James Gordon Carr
Minister of Natural Resources
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4

Hon. Siobhan Coady
Minister of Natural Resources
PO Box 8700
St. John’s NL A1B 4J6
Dear Ministers:

Re: Proposed Issuance of New Licence to Corridor Resources by Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board

The Prince Edward Island chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS PEI) protests the proposed issuance of a new exploration licence to Corridor Resources to replace the licence it has held since 2008 (Exploration Licence No. 1105) for the same lands. SOSS PEI urges you to refrain from approving issuance of this new licence to Corridor Resources.

Exploration Licence No. 1105 was issued on January 15, 2008 for the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, located mid-way between the Magdalen Islands and the west coast of Newfoundland. This four-year licence was extended in 2011, 2013 and most recently on January 4, 2016. In January 2017, Licence No. 1105 will reach the maximum non-renewable term of nine years. We note that, for each extension, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (the NL Board) waived the $1 million deposit required for a licence extension.

In its notice in the Canada Gazette (2016-09-17), the NL Board proposes to issue the new licence pursuant to paragraph 61(1)(b) of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act, S.C., 1987, c.3, and paragraph 60(1)(b) of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act, R.S.N.L. 1990, c. C-2. These paragraphs state that the board may issue an interest without making a call for bids where “the board is issuing the interest to an interest owner for the surrender by the interest owner, at the request of the board, of another interest or a share of another interest, in relation to all or a portion of the offshore area subject to that other interest.” In this case, the NL Board is proposing a new licence for “the same lands as those associated with Exploration Licence No. 1105” (as stated in the Canada Gazette), not for “another interest or a share of another interest.” Such a misuse of the provisions of the Act to circumvent the nine year maximum term of a licence should not be permitted.

The notice in the Canada Gazette states that the new licence “will provide appropriate time for a robust review process…” We note that the NL Board has had plenty of time to initiate a robust review process. In August 2011, the NL Board contracted with former New Brunswick Ombudsman Bernard Richard to carry out an independent review of the Old Harry project, then in February 2012 terminated his contract, without justification, before any public consultations were held. Since then, the NL Board has dragged its heels despite numerous inquiries asking when and how these consultations will be carried out. The issuance of a new licence to Corridor Resources to cover for the NL Board’s inexplicable failure to conduct a review or the required public and Aboriginal consultations would be an abuse of process.

We note that, in a Canadian Press article printed in the Charlottetown Guardian on September 17, 2016, the Natural Resources Canada spokesperson is quoted as saying that the government will take into account feedback received through the Canada Gazette process in deciding whether to approve the new licence. We strongly urge you to take our concerns into account and refuse to approve the new licence for Corridor Resources on the Old Harry prospect.

Sincerely,

Colin Jeffrey

Chair, Save Our Seas and Shores-PEI Chapter (SOSS PEI)
SOSS is a coalition of fishing organizations, environmental and tourism groups, coastal landowners, First Nations organizations, and individuals who are concerned that the ecologically rich and diverse Gulf of St. Lawrence, home to over 4,000 marine species, is particularly sensitive to any disturbance caused by seismic surveys, exploration and drilling for oil and gas.
cc
Sean Kelly, Manager of Public Relations, C-NLOPB
Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Elizabeth May, MP and Leader, Green Party of Canada
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, MP
Hon. Wayne Easter, MP
Sean Casey, MP
Robert Morrissey, MP
Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island
Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment
Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy
Hon. Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Greg Wilson, Manager, Environmental Land Management

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