The public review of the Hebron offshore oil project has begun, with presentations to review commissioner Miller Ayre having started this morning at the Holiday Inn in St. John's.
The presentations on the mega-project, which began with the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA), are also made to Hebron representatives, from ExxonMobil Canada, who are then able to respond with questions and comments.
In his opening remarks, Ayre set out specific guidelines for presentations, question and answer periods, and the goals of the commission, but also pointed out the informal nature of the public session exchanges.
"I really try to sum it up by saying there will be no swearing in and no swearing on," Ayre said.
Despite the setting, there are contentious issues being raised and direct answers being sought by the commissioner.
Ayre has put direct questions to both project representatives and presenters already, on points raised by NOIA.
More on that will be available in Tuesday's edition of The Telegram.
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Yet there has been no disputing the significance of the project, set to offset some of the impact of decreasing production from Hibernia in the coming decades.
In his opening remarks, Hebron project manager Geoff Parker labelled the offshore area targeted by Hebron as a "world class resource."
He spoke to the projects proponents' commitments to providing benefits to local communities both directly and indirectly, and being vigilant in terms of environmental protection.
"We are confident that we have a strong project," Parker said.
The next few weeks will pick through the available details of the Hebron project — looking closely at the information provided in the plans to date, found posted on the public review website.
Ultimately, after hearing from business organizations, environmental groups, labour diversity groups, municipalities and individuals, Ayre will file an overall report on the project to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.