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.”