CORNER BROOK — The government is doing what it can to ensure the province’s success in the oil and gas industry is achieved safely, the minister of Natural Resources told an audience Thursday.
Kathy Dunderdale was in Corner Brook to speak at the fifth International Symposium on Oil and Gas Resources. She outlined some of the initiatives being put in place to develop the industry.
“All of this work helps to solidify Newfoundland and Labrador’s reputation as a successful oil-producing jurisdiction,” Dunderdale said. “We have what it takes to succeed and we are wide open for business.
“That said, and in light of the recent incident in the Gulf of Mexico, we must remain cognizant of the need to always review our regulatory regime and practices to ensure they are consistent with the best practices and technologies employed around the world.”
The minister spoke of initiatives such as the offshore drilling and production regulations introduced at the end of last year, drafting similar drilling and production regulations for onshore, an external review of existing regulations for new industry developments, and the co-operative effort to develop an occupational health and safety legislative regime applying to offshore.
The province has also commissioned an independent review of its offshore oil spill prevention and response capabilities and is also supporting the offshore helicopter safety inquiry. She said once both reports are complete, government will review and analyze all recommendations and work with partners to make any changes ensuring environmental protection and the health and safety of those involved.
“With safety and environmental protection leading the way, we will continue to pursue every potential opportunity for growth and development and build on our accomplishments,” Dunderdale said. “Our accomplishments include four world-class producing fields, which have collectively produced over one billion barrels of oil.”
The minister also announced there will be a call for postings for onshore land parcels in this province soon. All interested parties will be invited to indicate land parcels in the onshore area that they would like to see made available in a competitive request for bids. It will seek expressions of interest from industry on particular onshore land parcels.
This call for postings is expected to be followed by a competitive request for bids for the issuance of exploration permits. The permits will grant the exclusive right to drill and test for petroleum in the permit area to the successful bidder.
“Our main concern will be these postings will support exploration activity in the region for the benefit of its residents and businesses and ultimately the entire province,” she said.
Dunderdale also pointed out the province was not solely reliant on its non-renewable resources in growing its energy industry, referring to its continued effort to develop the Lower Churchill project. She said government has been disappointed with the opposition of the project in Quebec, saying it is a concerted effort to prevent Lower Churchill power from accessing the markets.
“It is unacceptable that, in Canada, we do not have rules that govern free trade in energy across provincial borders,” she said. “The cumulative effect of these obstacles is the development of this positive green resource continues to be slowed down while competing projects in Quebec are approved.”
Despite that, she said government is fighting the obstacles and continuing to advance the project in other areas.