Greenland’s burgeoning potential in its oil and gas industry has companies worldwide looking to get in on the action — and a local consultant says the country’s similarities to Newfoundland could give local firms an advantage.
“They’re where we were, back in the ’60s,” Jeff Howard of Tailwinds Consulting told the Rotary Club of St. John’s on Thursday. “And they’ve got nowhere to go but up.”
He added that the 2007-08 U.S. Geological Survey estimate of the country’s offshore potential predicted a reserve 10 times the size of Newfoundland’s own — about 31 billion barrels of oil.
He cautioned, however, that it hasn’t been found yet.
“These are really early days in Greenland,” he said. “This is opportunity. There’s been no discoveries yet; Greenland is looking at how does it support the exploration phase. The world is looking at how it supports the exploration phase. Over the long term, I fully believe there will be great opportunities, but it’s very early days yet.”
Howard said there are parallels to the construction of Newfoundland’s oil and gas industry that give the pro-vince a kinship with Greenlanders.
“In some research I did — I was doing some work in Greenland — I spent a lot of time learning about what happened here in the ’60s and ’70s.
And part of that learning was there was no infrastructure, no anything. … Ships were off the coast of Newfoundland, crewed by international people. When you look at what’s happening in Greenland, it’s the same thing,” Howard said.
“If it wasn’t for the government of Newfoundland at the time insisting that certain positions on these vessels were crewed by Newfoundlanders — when they got on those boats, they got more involved, and the same thing’s going to happen in Greenland.”
It’s not just an industry infrastructure that would need to be built largely from scratch, but a people with strong nationalist sentiment — and even a new, outspoken Danny Williams-like leader in Kuupik Kleist.
“You look at the parallels in terms of the movement away from Denmark, the nationalism that we have in Newfoundland — it’s a ‘we’re Newfoundlanders first, Canadians second’ kind of thing.
“They’re Greenlanders first, not Danish. It’s just when you’re there, you get a sense of the similarities.”
Those similarities could give Newfoundland and Labrador firms a competitive advantage.
“We see the opportunities up there for our industry to sup-
port the exploration phase in Greenland. We know how to operate in the North Atlantic, in the harsh environment. We’re good at it,” he said.
“We have such good kindred spirits with the Greenlandic people. They want to work with us because we’re not telling them what to do; we want to work with them. So I see nothing but opportunities from that perspective.”