The government of Canada will let oil major firms to proceed with the drilling of 3 offshore wells in the Atlantic Ocean; Chevron Canada, Equinor Canada and BHP Petroleum will now move forward with the projects off the coasts of Newfoundland.
The announcement was made last Tuesday by Canadian Climate Change Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, as he assured that requirements imposed to companies related to environmental protection will ensure minimum impact. “Projects will not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” he said.
“The government of Canada believes that environmental assessments, which are based on science and meaningful consultations with Indigenous peoples and the public, are key to responsible resource development,” he added on a statement.
“These resources projects will provide economic opportunities for many Canadians and the legally binding conditions imposed throughout the life of the projects will protect the environment for generations to come,” he concluded.
On their side, companies will use offshore platforms, supply cargo ships and helicopters to conduct exploratory activities as well as the drilling itself; according to Canadian news media, the well assessment will begin as soon as this year; as the projects still have to secure further federal permissions such as the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
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Drilling areas are located around 350 and 375 kilometers off the coasts of St. John; two of the three projects are nearby a marine life refuge called the Northeast Newfoundland Slope, which is full with corals, sponges and fish species; therefore, the projects carry much concerns about their environmental impacts.
Still, Minister Wilkinson’s decision was taken over the review that the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada made for the projects in December, concluding that serious environmental degradation was unlikely if extensive conservation and mitigation efforts were deployed by the operators.
The decision to go forward with the drilling projects come also as the province seeks further production of oil. In 2018, the Newfoundland and Labrador government published a plan for the exploration and development of 100 new wells. Province’s goal is to have multiple basins producing over 650,000 barrels of oil per day by 2030.
Moreover, in September of 2020, the Natural Resources Minister, Seamus O’Regan, announced a joint investment between federal and provincial government to support offshore energy jobs for the oil and gas sector.