Newfoundland and Labrador’s foundations lie deep in the ocean.
Once it was cod that kept the economy going.
These days it’s oil. Black, sticky, smelly, expensive oil. Billions of barrels of it, in fact.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s three producing oil fields — Hibernia, White Rose and Terra Nova — together boast an estimated 2.27 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
Hardly chump change.
Provincial statistics estimate that 6 billion barrels of oil remain undiscovered.
“This is a very buoyant time for the province’s oil and gas industry,” said Jack Lawlor, chairman of the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association.
Lawlor was in Gander last week to speak at the Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Economic Development Association annual awards ceremony.
According to him, the road ahead is paved with crude oil.
The $6-billion Hebron project is slated to start production of its 400-700 million barrels of oil by 2017.
In 2009, seismic work completed by StatoilHydro Canada found a significant discovery of oil in the Flemish Pass Basin — an entirely new basin than the one that houses the three producing platforms.
According to Lawlor, Statoil has applied for a significant discovery licence, and industry officials are optimistic.
He said 40 per cent of the province’s gross domestic product and 30 per cent of provincial revenue is generated by the industry.
Lawlor said many people don’t fully appreciate the effect the oil industry has in every community of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“That 30 per cent of the provincial revenue is being spent all across the province,” he said.
“As I drove out to Gander today, I heard an announcement that there’s been an investment in a couple of schools in the Gander area. And I’m not saying that money came directly from the oil and gas industry, but the revenue generated from that industry certainly helps the province and the provincial government to have those additional resources so they can do more for the province in everything from health care and education to roads and infrastructure.”