Minister’s speech a sour note on opening Oil and Gas Week, says NDP leader
Finance Minister Tom Marshall addresses reporters during a news conference Friday outside the House of Assembly in St. John’s. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Oil and Gas Week 2013 was launched with a series of speeches at the Marine Institute in St. John’s this morning, including one from the province’s new Minister of Natural Resources, Tom Marshall.
It was Marshall’s first official speech since taking over the role of natural resources minister, having moved in from finance.
“There’s 4,300 highly skilled professionals that are currently employed in the province’s producing projects and 90 per cent of those are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” he said, adding to the celebratory tone also hit by other speakers.
He ran through advancements in local oil and gas industry projects, including the Hebron project.
“Hebron will make a significant contribution to offshore production and to our provincial royalties,” he said, also referencing the project’s estimated $14 billion capital cost.
Marshall made no mention of the contracts issued for creation of large pieces, modules, of the Hebron project being filled outside the province.
On Friday, it was announce Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea was awarded the contract for the derrick equipment set. It is the second module awarded to Hyundai.
The minister did highlight project work underway at Marystown and Bull Arm.
He ended his speech by saying he hopes future historians refer to the present as a “golden time of opportunity.”
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, who followed Marshall to the podium, took a playful jab at the present state of affairs of the province’s finances — largely dependent on oil revenues.
“The point was made to me over the weekend that — Hey, did you know that the city is in better shape than the province?”
O’Keefe laughed, admitting the joke might cost him down the road, considering the province’s projected deficit of more than $725 million for the year.
The city is still looking for a new “fiscal relationship” with the province, the mayor said. “Well if he thinks for one minute that we have more money than he has we’re not going to get anything extra.”
NDP leader Lorraine Michael and NDP MHA George Murphy were both on hand for the launch event. Michael was asked if she had any response to Marshall’s speech.
“Here we are ... and the minister — in this setting — is making all these fantastic comments about the future of this province, the future for these young people and talking abut the current moment in the province being a ‘Camelot,’” Michael said.
“At the same time, his government is telling the public service sector that they have to get ready for cuts — both in terms of jobs and, he’s telling the public, in terms of services as well. Once again we have the government speaking out of the two sides of its mouth.”
Michael said she recognizes the importance of the oil and gas industry and the revenues from the oil and gas industry to the provincial economy.
No Liberal MHAs attended the event.
The Telegram will have more in Tuesday’s edition.