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Lewisporte hopes to see its harbour used in connection with future offshore oil exploration

The Hebron platform on Newfoundland and Labrador offshore is an example of how digitalization is disrupting how the offshore oil and gas sector conducts and manages operations.
While Lewisporte’s long-standing freight service to Labrador is expected to end this March, the port, wharves and infrastructure will remain. Town council hopes the port’s resources, location and water depth will make it a viable option in future offshore oil and gas activity, particularly in the northern reaches and north west of the province.

Seeking new opportunities in the offshore

LEWISPORTE, N.L. —

As the closure of its freight shipping service approaches, the town of Lewisporte is looking to play a role in future oil and gas exploration.

While the town’s long-standing freight service to Labrador is expected to end this March, the port, wharves and infrastructure will remain. Lewisporte town Councillor Perry Pond hopes the port’s resources, location and water depth will make it a viable option in future offshore oil and gas activity, particularly in the northern reaches and north west of the province.

“We feel we have the attributes to play a role in the industry,” said Pond. “That could be a supply base, serve survey ships, maintenance, a spectrum of things.”

Lewisporte Councillor Perry Pond hopes to see the town prepared to take advantage of future oil and gas opportunities, possibly through using its harbour as a supply base or port for survey ships.
Lewisporte Councillor Perry Pond hopes to see the town prepared to take advantage of future oil and gas opportunities, possibly through using its harbour as a supply base or port for survey ships.

Currently, Lewisporte’s deep-water port includes an enclosed warehouse, a 4.5 hectare lay down area, a paved wharf and 335 meters of dockage. The water depth of the harbour is at a minimum of seven meters.

Town seeking a consultant

The proposal first came about in 2006, when an opportunity identification study was done for the port of Lewisporte. Oil and gas was recommended as a future area for investment, but the report stated any opportunities would take at least another 10 years to come to fruition.

Now, 12 years since that report, the town is seeking a consultant to investigate and determine what offshore opportunities Lewisporte should tackle.

“We need the expertise of people in the industry to determine what role we can play and how best we can facilitate that role,” Pond said. “Then (the consultant) would develop a plan for us so we can be ready to attract and market to players in the industry.

“I think the time is right to aggressively start to develop a plan, so as the industry grows in our area we’re ready to participate.”

To hire a consultant the town has received funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Trade and Innovation.

In 2018, Lewisporte town council and Lewisporte and area Chamber of Commerce met with Charlene Johnson, CEO of Noia (Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association) and with Jim Keating, the executive vice-president of Nalcor Energy’s oil and gas sector.

Pond says both those meetings showed serious potential to bring Lewisporte’s harbour services into the industry.

“There is evidence of (oil and gas) exploration expanding west and northwest,” he said. “We think the ducks are aligning that somewhere in the northeast coast there will be active chance to be involved. Whoever is most prepared will benefit from that offshore activity and we want to be one community that is.”

Lewisporte’s long-standing freight service to Labrador will end in March, but the town hopes the remaining port and infrastructure can play a role in supporting future offshore oil and gas exploration.
Lewisporte’s long-standing freight service to Labrador will end in March, but the town hopes the remaining port and infrastructure can play a role in supporting future offshore oil and gas exploration.


In an emailed response from Nalcor, the company stated that independent resource assessments estimate that there is a combined resource potential of 49.2 billion barrels of oil and 193.8 trillion cubic feet of gas in the province’s offshore, much of which remains untapped.

“We are pleased to see the town of Lewisporte planning to have a role in the industry,” Johnson said in an emailed response from Noia. “It is just the kind of thinking Noia feels is required by municipalities and industry associations… I was extremely pleased to see the level of interest and forward thinking by council members, business leaders, and residents.

“Noia would encourage municipalities to think long term, as Lewisporte is doing.”

Towards the end of 2018, a record-breaking $1.3 billion was announced for new oil and gas activity in the province. In their emailed statement, Nalcor says the company currently has seven drilling plans submitted to the regulator C-NLOPB (Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board).

Pond hopes that within the next three or four months there will be a report prepared detailing Lewisporte’s next step to grow their role in this industry.

“We’ll implement that report and move forward from there,” said Pond. “It’s one step of many, but it’s a key step. It will make sure we do this right.”

kyle.greenham@thecentralvoice.ca

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