Ziff Energy Group not experts and had hands tied: Cabot Martin

Ashley
Ashley Fitzpatrick
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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.

See ADVOCATE, page C2

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.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Ziff Energy Group, Department of Natural Resources, Public Utilities Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, White Rose

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Recent comments

  • H JEFFORD
    November 26, 2012 - 06:25

    I think the muskrat falls development is the only proven reliable and safe source of power to use, we have only to look at the upper Churchill power supply and ask is it reliable,is it safe, is it cost effective, Any source of power that is as safe and reliable as the upper CHURCHILL has got to be GOOD, power produced by wind is not reliable, Natural Gas cost will increase with demand or supply but power created by the force a water falls when harnessed will run forever .

    • david
      November 26, 2012 - 08:58

      The technical feasibilty of hydro-electric power...THAT'S what you think the core issue at hand is here?! Really? You are as dangerously oblivious to the legal complexity, financial risk, and interrelated logistical challenges of this as the government itself. Surreal.

  • West Coast Observer
    November 26, 2012 - 06:11

    So Cabot Martin is now an expert. Sounds like he has an hidden agenda, like the rest of his 2041 group. Don't believe me, check them out on line.

  • roy
    November 25, 2012 - 08:44

    What are the group of 2041 smoking. Anyhow i am an expert in the use of natural gas, wind power etc. As these people say my identity is protected so i will say that if you give me a couple of billon dollars i will develop either one. So Mr Martin or any of the group please contact me and make arrangement for delivery of the money, i remain unnamed at this point but will come foreward when the cheque is made out and give my chequeing acct number.

  • KD
    November 24, 2012 - 17:29

    If there was ever a hydro project anywhere in the world nl would be the ideal place to find experts I am sure per capita we must have the most hydro experts compared to any other place. If mr martin is so full of himself with being an expert I am wondering why he is not employed in the hydro industry. It seems all these so called experts are representing one of the two opposition parties and not the general public

  • david
    November 24, 2012 - 09:14

    So now to go along with the public image of having a gov ernemnt that bulldozes and has its way with its rubes of an electorate, now we have Cabot Martin putting himself out there as one of the more "highly knowledgeable business minds" on this topic....this isn't a Newfie Joke anymore, it's gonna be a whole book --- maybe a movie, so that's good, right?!

  • John Smith
    November 24, 2012 - 08:44

    Someone who loves Cabot should take him aside and explain that he is embarrassing himself in front of the province....

    • david
      November 25, 2012 - 11:00

      Yes....you'd know.