16 August 2011

Feds want Gulf of St. Lawrence enviro review

Federal environment minister Peter Kent wants an extensive environmental review before Corridor Resources can get a permit to explore on the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, CBC is reporting.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board received 50 submissions as part of a review into an application by Corridor for an exploration permit.

In June, CNLOPB asked Kent to appoint a mediator or review panel  on the project:

“In the aftermath of the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, Canadians are particularly sensitive to the risks associated with offshore oil exploration drilling. This proposed well is in an area where there has been little public experience with offshore drilling, and it has attracted an especially high level of concern. These concerns have been expressed clearly to the C-NLOPB and we are of the opinion that a level of environmental assessment beyond a screening report is warranted,” said Max Ruelokke, C-NLOPB Chair and CEO.

The offshore regulatory board’s enabling legislation gives it the power to request a review if “it believes the project may cause significant adverse environmental effects, or if public concerns warrant this level of review.” That’s from the offshore board’s June news release.

Old Harry is a potentially lucrative oil and natural gas field in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  It lies in an area that is subject to a dispute over jurisdiction between Ottawa and each of the four provinces bordering the Gulf.

Corridor Resources wants to explore in a portion of the field that is within the CNLOPB area of responsibility.

Last summer, the federal government started talks with the Quebec government on a revenue sharing deal  - modelled on the 1985 deals with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador – that would cover any sub-sea resources within a potential Quebec offshore area.

- srbp -