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Newfoundland and Labrador offshore sector renews call for federal assistance

The Hibernia offshore oil platform.
The Hibernia offshore oil platform.

The Newfoundland and Labrador oil and gas sector is renewing is call for the federal government to offer a more concrete show of support to an industry that's been reeling due to COVID-19 and poor global prices for the nonrenewable resources.

In a news release issued Friday, the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (Noia) said it still awaits word from government on some form of assistance to encourage exploration and construction projects in 2020. In May, Noia launched a campaign to do this, stating at various points the shutdown of the sector in the province left thousands of people without work.

Friday's release takes specific aim at St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP Seamus O'Regan, the federal natural resources minister.

"Minister O'Regan was quoted in The Telegram on June 4, 2020 during the announcement of the regional assessment, as saying that help was coming 'very soon' for the offshore oil and gas industry," Noia CEO Charlene Johnson stated in the release. "That was a month ago and our industry still faces a crisis that requires assistance from the Government of Canada to help it recover from COVID-19. It is time for 'very soon' to become now."

The release goes on to state that while local industry believes the minister shares its concern, it needs to see that concern converted to action.

"Minister O'Regan has advocated for and spoken favourably of our industry, its role in the global energy market, and how oil produced offshore Newfoundland and Labrador can help provide a lower carbon product to that market," said Noia board chair Karen Winsor. "We ask Minister O'Regan's cabinet colleagues to support him and our offshore and help the thousands of people who have been impacted by this crisis."

Noia's campaign has received criticism from environmental advocates. Last month in an open letter to the prime minister, representatives of 23 groups called on the federal government not to direct funds to the province's offshore industry, instead recommending investments would be best directed towards clean industries, fisheries and tourism.

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