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Letter: Oil and gas must be a byelection issue

Hebron build.
The Hebron build. — Courtesy of ExxonMobil Canada Properties

The Newfoundland and Labrador Oil & Gas Industries Association (Noia) is calling on all candidates in the upcoming Bonavista-Burin-Trinity by-election to fully understand the importance of the offshore oil and gas industry to the economic future of the area and for voters to know where all candidates stand on industry-related issues before marking their ballots on Dec. 11.

Offshore oil and gas is the only industry that can ensure Newfoundland and Labrador remains a “have” province.

The offshore oil and gas industry has been a significant economic contributor to the area since Hibernia construction in the 1990s. More recently, during its six years of construction at Bull Arm, the Hebron oil production platform created thousands of well-paid construction jobs, with 3,700 individuals working on the project as of late 2016. Similarly, the Kiewit Cow Head Fabrication Facility in Marystown was a major employer through Hibernia, topsides work for White Rose, the Hebron drilling support module, as well as rig modification repair. People from all over the province were employed at these sites, occupying nearly every available rental property and boosting local businesses. However, with the completion of Hebron, recent layoffs at the Come By Chance refinery and uncertainty in the fishing industry, timely development of the offshore industry is critical — now more than ever — to the economic future of the area.

Offshore oil and gas is the only industry that can ensure Newfoundland and Labrador remains a “have” province. It has contributed up to 30 per cent of annual revenues in provincial budgets with approximately 40 per cent of total government take going to the federal government. Yet we don’t see the federal government doing anything to support it. In fact, we only see them putting up road blocks to its development.

Oil and gas development is crucial to the survival of the area yet there are many regulatory hurdles impeding development of the industry, one of the most time sensitive being the federal government’s proposed changes to the environmental assessment process. With these critical environmental assessment decisions being made right now, the very future of the industry — and this region in particular — is at stake.

The reality is that unless we see federal government support, the Husky wellhead platform living quarters could very well be the last offshore module constructed in the area. Today we are asking candidates to share their views on the industry and we are asking voters to ensure the individual they support will in turn support the interests of the region in Ottawa.

 

Andrew Bell, chair
Noia Board of Directors

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