Mary Gorman of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition (SOSS), speaks passionately for protecting the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Pa’qtnkek Water Ceremony with Ethan Hawke, October 26, 2015.
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
(OTTAWA) January 22, 2016 – Elizabeth May is standing alongside local community leaders to denounce the decision of provincial and federal regulators to give Corridor Resources Inc. a free pass for the third time at the Old Harry site, a proposed deep water oil well in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
“This is a shocking decision,” stated the Green Party Leader. “Putting thousands of livelihoods and our environment at risk by continuing to explore for oil and natural gas in this critical ecosystem is unacceptable. To compound the problem by not even requiring them to pay their fee, that is really outrageous.”
Community groups have long been calling for a full moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Corridor Resources Inc. had until Friday, January 22 to pay a $1-million deposit to extend their licence, but provincial and federal regulators agreed to waive that fee earlier this week – the third time this has happened. The local fishing industry is worth in excess of $1.5 billion, and tourism along the Gulf directly employs tens of thousands of people across multiple provinces.
“This is a free pass to the oil and gas industry, and a slap in the face to fishermen, Aboriginal communities, and the local tourism industry, which all rely on the health of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” concluded May. “This licence should never have been extended, much less for free.”
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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”
Latest Old Harry extension sees Atlantic Accord ratified for cash-strapped company
by Miles Howe
January 18, 2016
KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) — It seems like Corridor Resources has some well connected friends. On Friday, January 15, the oil and gas company received yet another extension to its Old Harry exploration lease in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This time, federal ministers and their provincial counterparts in Newfoundland ratified the existing Atlantic Accord legislation, so that Corridor can sidestep the $1 million it would have earlier had to pay to extend and secure this lease.
The Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the arm’s length organization in charge of finalizing offshore leases for the province, explained this ratification as being related to regulatory factors that had hindered Corridor’s ability to drill a validation, or exploratory, well. That, or it could just be that Corridor Resources, like so many junior exploration and extraction companies, is going broke and hasn’t been able to afford the price of an offshore well.
Corridor, as of January 18th, was in a year long nose dive and was trading at 44 cents per share. Without a senior partner to fund the Old Harry project, and with the federal government dragging its feet on the necessary Environmental Assessment of the project, for the moment it seems like the Offshore Petroleum Board is content to keep Corridor on some kind of life support system.
It’s not sitting well with Mary Gorman, of the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition, who feels like its time to pull the plug on Corridor once and for all and on top of that instill a drilling moratorium in the ecologically fragile Gulf of St. Lawrence.
(Listen to Halifax Media Coo’s excellent interview with Mary Gorman who speaks about Corridor, Old Harry, and the general disillusionment felt after decades of fighting to protect the Gulf.)
Source: Halifax Media Coop
The Canadian Press
Jan 15, 2016 2:05 pm EST
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Environmental activists who want a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence weren’t impressed Friday as regulators extended an oil exploration licence for the Old Harry site by another year.
Corridor Resources Inc. (TSX-CDH) of Halifax had until Friday to offer a $1 million deposit to extend the licence until next January.
The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board announced the province and Ottawa agreed to waive the fee. Federal and provincial Natural Resources ministers ratified the move “in consideration of regulatory factors that have resulted in … delays in drilling a validation well in the final year of (Corridor’s) nine-year licence term,” the board said in a news release.
Spokesman Sean Kelly said no one was available for further comment.
Corridor Resources President and CEO Steve Moran referred all questions to the offshore petroleum board.
“It’s awful,” said Sylvain Archambault of the St. Lawrence Coalition, one of several environmental and indigenous groups across Canada that have called for a drilling moratorium in the Gulf.
“This is the third time they’ve obtained such a free pass.”
In its news release, the offshore board said it will soon announce plans for consultations with aboriginal groups and the public on related environmental assessments. Such regulatory requirements must be complete before any drilling goes ahead, Kelly confirmed in an email.
The federal government has estimated the Gulf and surrounding areas potentially hold 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
Indigenous groups and environmental activists have urged a moratorium in the Gulf pending a scientific review of risks. They also want to see collective management strategies involving the five adjacent provinces — Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Drilling would be close to the shore of any province,” Archambault said Friday in an interview. The Old Harry site is about 80 kilometres west of Newfoundland. One theory is that it was named for a community on the nearby Magdalen Islands.
“Scientific spill scenarios clearly show that the west coast of Newfoundland would be impacted as well as Cape Breton and the Magdalen Islands,” Archambault said.
“In the Gulf there are fisheries worth over $1.5 billion. There’s tourism, communities living all around the Gulf. We really don’t want the same scenario that happened in the Gulf of Mexico to repeat itself here.”
The Deepwater Horizon explosion April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 rig workers. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil spewed into the water before engineers could cap the blown-out well 87 days later.
“And the Old Harry drilling site would be smack in the middle of the Laurentian Channel which is the highway used by all the migrating species — whales, salmon, cod,” Archambault said. “Anything happening there would be disastrous.”
Source: 680 News