Mayor calls for Hebron module to be built in N.L.

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Little information publicly available on thinking of province or ExxonMobil

St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe is publicly supporting the prov-ince’s demand the Hebron platform’s derrick equipment set module — a piece of the immense offshore oil project — be built in the province.

In making the statement in a news release Friday, the mayor added he would support his stance by not attending a send-off for ExxonMobil Canada president Meg O’Neill, who had taken part in this week’s Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA) conference in St. John's.

“I want to be clear that this in no way has anything to do with Meg O’Neill, she is a wonderful person who loves Newfoundland and Labrador and I would like to wish her all the best in her future endeavours,” O’Keefe said of the public snub.

“However, I do feel that it would be inappropriate to attend this event given my strong stance against any of the work for the ExxonMobil’s Hebron project moving out of this province.”


The dispute

ExxonMobil is lead on the Hebron project. During the NOIA conference, Hebron project leader Geoff Parker stated project team studies had determined attempting to build a third Hebron module in the province would unduly delay the project timeline and result in “significant financial implications.”

Both Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy responded to the comments by saying the government believes the module can be built locally.

“This is a critical issue for our province as a whole,” O’Keefe said of the dispute. “As long as we are capable of doing the work to build these three modules it needs to remain in this province. If we let this go it will be a slippery slope that ends with us losing control of our natural resources. I encourage Premier Dunderdale to stick to her guns and she has the city’s full support on this issue.”


Business behind closed doors

While the general statements on both sides have been public, the detailed information is being kept behind closed doors, at least for now.

The provincial government says its stance is supported by the work of an independent consultant, Ian Wright, based out of the United Kingdom. Wright’s evaluation on the provincial capability to produce the third module has not been made publicly available, despite a direct request by The Telegram Wednesday.

By the same token, ExxonMobil Canada and the Hebron partners have not made public detailed information to support their thinking. Parker said the Hebron team’s detailed study will be submitted to the province in the coming week.

Parker did not take questions from reporters on the issue following his presentation to NOIA members at the city’s convention centre Thursday.

A media tour of the Bull Arm fabrication site, scheduled for Friday morning, was “postponed” as of late Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, staff with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board issued an opinion paper on the details of the Hebron Benefits Plan in April.

“The assessment of the major components that can be constructed in the province is consistent with that of the Hebron benefits agreement,” they stated. “In this regard, the plan indicates that construction of the GBS will take place at Bull Arm as will integration of topsides modules, mating of the topsides and GBS, and hook-up and commissioning activities. The flare boom, helideck, and lifeboat stations will be built in the province, while the drilling support modules, drilling derrick module and living quarters module will be built in the province subject to reasonable physical capacity and human resource availability.”

The Hebron partners are: ExxonMobil (approximately 36 per cent), Chevron (27 per cent), Suncor (22 per cent), Statoil (10 per cent) and Nalcor (5 per cent). Estimated recovery for Hebron is between 660 million to over a billion barrels.

This is an edited version.

Organizations: ExxonMobil, NOIA, Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Hebron Benefits Plan Statoil

Geographic location: Hebron, N.L., Canada Newfoundland and Labrador United Kingdom

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Recent comments

    June 25, 2012 - 21:08

    Exxon is wrong if it doesn't abide by what is agreed to in the Contract it signed off on with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Exxon is right
    June 25, 2012 - 10:23

    I have to side with Exxon on this matter. If projects are on timelines and want to meet their goals they have to split the work. Two will be built here and probably way over time and budget. Projects like Long Harbor can prove this theory. The company has its best interests at heart and in this instance I firmly believe they are right. O'Keefe needs to grow up and stop acting like a child. Attending the function and discussing issues woukld have been a better use of his time and position.

  • Mark
    June 24, 2012 - 21:03

    It's kind of hard to believe anything the Telegram publishes when they misstate facts creating fiction. The event that what’s-his-name isn’t attending is described as “a send-off for ExxonMobil Canada president Meg O’Neill, who had been visiting St. John’s to take part in this week’s Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA) conference.” The Telegram could only have made up the “visiting St. John’s” part…. Meg O’Neill has lived in St. John’s for the last 2 years. And what’s the deal with the provincial government having to use a consultant from the UK to evaluate the provincial capability to produce the third module? Surely the Premier, the Natural Resources Minister or someone else in the provincial bureaucracy must have been capable of figuring this out? Please don’t tell us there was no one in the province that could do that analysis.

  • Disgusted
    June 23, 2012 - 19:50

    Does anyone really care what this guy does ? I am sure after today they (Hebron/Esso) will consider him a Town Clown and any chance of ever getting anything from them just went out the door with his "I will not attend". As if they care what the guy does.................. St. John's needs to replace this guy.........

  • dickie
    June 23, 2012 - 17:50

    Oh for God sake O'Keefe give it up. Not buying my vote with this kind of stuff. Our council needs a major shakeup next election and unless some of the old fogies down there don't run next time we won't get any new faces and why. Who wants to be on council with most of these guys. Hopefully Breen may run for Mayor next time. seems to have a handle on things better than O'Keefe

  • David
    June 23, 2012 - 11:36

    Oh, and BTW 'Doc'...classy move not attending the ceremony for the Exxon exec. Really leaves her with a lasting impression of her time in Newfoundland, and possibly even a funny little anecdote for oil conferences or get-togethers around the world. Really accomplished a lot and "sent a message" with that one. Great job.

  • David
    June 23, 2012 - 11:30

    Dear politicians: Are you all completely daft, or just have such a myopic view of your little empires that you don't know any better? The price of oil is in the dumper. Thatm eaqns that oil companies are getting squeezed on these projects. They do not produce oil so that the Province of Newofundland can balanvce its books, or so that St, John's can increase its tax rolls...they do it to make money. If Newfoundand and St. John's are as iditoic as to presume $100+ oil as a floor, and make budgets on that ridicuolous level, it serves them right to get their political Rses handed to them. It is not Chevron's or Exxon's job to advise government on prudent budgeting, or to bail them out when they get burnt. This latest grandstanding is simply a desparate attempt to get th "evil, greedy oil companies" to bail you out of your self-inflicted the same time, for the same reason, that they can't afford to.

  • Edmund
    June 23, 2012 - 10:21

    Here we go again, O'Keefe blowing smoke and getting more press and TV time trying to make himself bigger than life itself. What a joke he is and has been since being elected. He is so ignorant that he does not realize that what he thinks makes absolutely no difference as to what happens with any offshore project. Hey O;Keefe here it is, plain and simple, these projects are between the Feds, The province and the oil companies, not you. If he had any common sense and was a professional representative of our city he would wake up and see what oil & gas has done for the city. Without their tax dollars, I doubt he would be able to manage, not that he can now, the small city, by most standards, that we have. IF he knew how to manage and IF he had any common sense, he should be attending these functions and using that time to express how important it is to the province, not only the city, to have this work done here. All the right movers and shakers would be in one place, what a spot to get a message out face to face. But no, O'Keefe had to put himself first, like he had done many times before, trying to make himself bigger that an industry and try to grab some of the limelite and pretty much insult everyone involved. Why did he wait to evict the squatters at Hr. Park? Because he did not have the guts to do the right thing until his cruise liners were to arrive. He now does not have the guts to attend a simple farewell party for one of the most influential persons who may be able to help him. This is an uncalled for act of insult to Meg O'Neill, ExxonMobil & the oil / gas industry and he should be ashamed of himself for not attending. He should have gone to the function and not tried to make himself seem more important than those he is supposed to serve. He has to start realizing, immediately, that he is not important in the big scheme of things and most people in the province and especially the city, do not give a rats a-- what his opinion is. He should spend more time in his office trying to manage the city instead of trying to be a crusader for us because we don't need him or his opinion. Clean up the city, patch up the water and sewer and pave the roads O'Keefe, we would appreciate that.