November 8, 2010
The Atlantic provinces are in danger of being hit by oil spills if a proposed offshore drilling project in the Gulf of St. Lawrence goes ahead, the David Suzuki Foundation said Monday.
Corridor Resources Inc., a Nova Scotia company that has developed natural gas wells near Sussex, N.B., holds exploration leases on an offshore oil field in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The deposit — dubbed Old Harry — is between Newfoundland and Quebec’s Îles-de-la-Madeleine and roughly 500 metres underwater.
Old Harry may contain hydrocarbon reserves of up to two billion barrels of oil, according to a posting on the David Suzuki Foundation website.
Karel Mayrand, the director general for Quebec at the David Suzuki Foundation, said staff prepared computer simulations of what would happen if an oil spill were to occur in the Old Harry field.
“It means oil coming to the Acadian Peninsula and to the tip of Prince Edward Island,” Mayrand told CBC News on Monday.
“The impacts are important because, as you know, species can be affected in ecosystems, and we would see impacts on fisheries and also on tourism.”
There are simulations for each of the four seasons. One simulation, for example, suggests a winter oil spill in the area would spread oil to the Acadian Peninsula — from Miscou Island to Caraquet — and the northwest tip of Prince Edward Island.
“This is an ecosystem that is already under stress. It does not need another stressor,” said Inka Milewski, the science advisor for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
“The Acadian Peninsula is an interesting part of New Brunswick; it’s very different than the Bay of Fundy,” Milewski said.
“Very low-lying, lots of sedimentary environment, a lot of sand, eelgrass beds, wetland areas. So it would have a devastating impact if it hit that particular coast.”
Corridor Resources Inc.’s current licence will allow the company to do a seismic survey of the Old Harry field in order to determine the best location for the first borehole. After the seismic survey, according to the terms of the licence, drilling would happen by 2012 to confirm whether the hydrocarbons are there.
Christian Brun, the executive director of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, said Monday he wants a moratorium on drilling, considering the potential impacts a spill may have on fish and shellfish.
“You can’t go forward until you demonstrate that this will have either minimal consequences — which they can’t — or that there’s a way to prevent and react in case of severe difficulties,” he said.
“That’s not there right now.”
The David Suzuki Foundation is expected to release their oil spill computer simulations on Tuesday.