Oil and gas entrepreneur Cabot Martin held a news conference in St. John's Friday to condemn a report saying that natural gas is not viable as an energy source for the province. -Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
Citing his decades of experience in the oil and gas industry and familiarity with the provincial offshore, businessman Cabot Martin has rejected the findings of a recent consultant’s report on the potential for natural gas to be the answer to the province’s energy needs.
He has accused the government of ignoring gas as a viable alternative to the Muskrat Falls hydro development.
Friday morning in St. John’s, he offered reporters a written analysis of the Ziff Energy Group study from Oct. 30, 2012. That study, prepared for the provincial Department of Natural Resources, concluded the plan for hydroelectric development at Muskrat Falls is the least-cost option for supplying power to customers in Newfoundland and Labrador, when compared to using natural gas piped in from the offshore.
“The Ziff Report is, in short, far too restricted and too inaccurate to constitute a valuable addition to our Muskrat information base,” Martin said.
During the news conference, hosted by the 2041 Inc. group, Martin repeatedly challenged the expertise of Ziff and the consultant’s ability to reach such a conclusion, and asked, “Why should we be stuck with Ziff?”
He accused the government of not allowing a full and free evaluation of the natural gas option for supplying power to the province, using gas from existing offshore finds. Instead, he said, the government has pushed Muskrat Falls over all other options.
“In the old age, we would have called it a railroad job,” he said.
Challenged, Martin could not say what would motivate either Nalcor Energy or the provincial government to do such a “railroad job.”
Martin’s analysis also included numbers from “persons highly familiar with North Atlantic pipeline costs.” He would not name his experts, saying they were afraid to speak their objections about the Ziff study.
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Advocate did not discuss idea with Husky
Names aside, Martin’s analysis relies on the provincial government’s putting the brakes on the Muskrat Falls plan, completing a second, engineering-intensive study of natural gas options and sending that plan to the Public Utilities Board (PUB).
The provincial government would have to enter into tough talks with Husky, he explained, seeking a deal for the natural gas at the White Rose oil field.
Martin said he believes a deal could be done, even though Husky representatives have previously said they are not interested in developing White Rose gas — at this point in time — in the style of Martin’s plan.
When asked what could be done to change Husky’s mind, Martin said he did not know.
He also said, while having sought expert input, he had not spoken with anyone at Husky about his idea.
His analysis of the potential in natural gas is, he said, above all else, should be considered food for thought when it comes to alternatives to Muskrat Falls and what the provincial government is promoting.
Martin was asked why he insists on putting forward his idea for using natural gas as a provincial energy supply when that idea had — to date — not gained any traction with Nalcor, the Dunderdale government or industry.
“I will never give up on my right to speak out and speak what I think is the truth,” he said.