Black Spruce upbeat in the face of fracking moratorium

James McLeod
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Black Spruce Exploration struck a conciliatory tone with its news release Wednesday afternoon, two days after the provincial government announced an indefinite moratorium on fracking in the province.

Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley speaks to reporters Wednesday outside the House of Assembly. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Black Spruce is proposing to use hydraulic fracturing to explore for oil in the Port au Port area on the province’s west coast, but that won’t happen until after the government does a comprehensive review and public consultations about the controversial method of oil extraction.

“We recognize that hydraulic fracturing technology is new to the province and we are encouraged that the government intends to examine the rules and regulations employed in other jurisdictions where this technology has been used,” Black Spruce said in a statement distributed to the media Wednesday. “There have been 1.4 million wells hydraulically fractured in North America.”

Oil companies on the province’s west coast have been talking about fracking all year, but Black Spruce seemed to be blindsided Monday when Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley announced the moratorium. At first, a company representative said that a media statement was being prepared Monday afternoon and representatives would be prepared to speak to the media Tuesday, but then the company made no official comment at all until Wednesday afternoon.

The two-page news release talks about respecting the government’s decision, but also stressing the economic benefits and employment possibilities that fracking will bring.

“In the past 10 days, in response to three job postings, we have received more than 100 applications for employment from Newfoundlanders,” the company said. “In addition, we have had inquiries from several hundred Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who work in the oil and gas industry worldwide, who want to come home to live and work.”

Dalley said Monday’s announcement could have been worse for Black Spruce.

“We could have come out and said, ‘No, we’re not fracking,’” Dalley said. “This is an exercise and process here where we make sure we have the right information — we make sure we have the right information from the opponents to fracking, but as well, we have the right information from the proponents like Black Spruce.”

Dalley said he won’t give any sort of timeline for how long the review will take; in the meantime, he said he’s happy to hear that Black Spruce still plans a conventional drilling program on the west coast.

In Wednesday’s news release, Black Spruce president and CEO said he’s confident that they can win the government over.

“We are confident that this technology can be used responsibly to the economic benefit of the people of western Newfoundland, without comprising their health and protection of the environment, as it has been done in many other jurisdictions throughout the world.”

Geographic location: Port au Port, North America, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • david
    November 07, 2013 - 14:49

    Black Spruce Exploration: I strongly suggest you take a glance at Thomas Resources' "Lessons Learned the Hard Way" and pack up and move on to somewhere else --- anywhere else ---- that values economic development over crass vote pandering. Here, if you get your permits, you'll inevitably suffer long labour strikes. If you eventually find oil, the government will screw with the (currently nonexistent) royalty regime that you are inexplicably willing to overlook. Ultimately, there will be a public outcry to keep and sell all the oil locally at a fraction of the market price. In summary, this is the last, worst place on Earth to engage in any sort of business. Do not walk. Run.

  • Paul Pike
    November 07, 2013 - 10:38

    They have something up their sleeve, they know that testing will be done research will be done and they will be paying for that research. And of course it will be announced that hydraulic fracturing is safe, and the province will then feel like it can go forward. Very crooked indeed.

  • woodrow pelley
    November 07, 2013 - 10:21

    Black Spruce's earlier email about the commencement of fracking in Newfoundland reeked of arrogance. Perhaps they were thinking Newfoundlanders are ignorant rubes and an easy pushover on the risks of fracking. Minister Dalley showed that the people of Newfoundland will decide how and when they will exploit their natural resources, not some corporate bigwigs who's ONLY motivation is to "enhance shareholder value." Take a hike Black Spruce!