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.”
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.