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Recent Environmental Assessment Announcements Positive for Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Oil & Gas Industry

Recent announcements regarding exploration activity offshore Newfoundland and Labrador should have a positive impact on Noia members, the offshore industry, and the entire province.

Yesterday, Minister of Indigenous Services, Seamus O’Regan, announced that two offshore exploration programs were released from the environmental review process. One is an ExxonMobil Canada program located in the Jeanne d’Arc and Flemish Pass basins and the other is an Equinor Canada program located in the Flemish Pass Basin. The projects had been undergoing review since 2016.

“Noia welcomes the approval of these projects as it will provide important supply and service opportunities for our members and will hopefully lead to discoveries which will create even more opportunities,” said Noia CEO Charlene Johnson. “While this is positive news, these programs have been in the review process for approximately 900 days which is far too long for a 30 to 90-day activity and not at all in line with other OECD countries such as Norway, the United Kingdom, and Australia – jurisdictions that we compete with for exploration activity.”

Earlier in the week, the Regional Assessment of Offshore Oil and Gas Exploratory Drilling East of Newfoundland and Labrador was launched, and members of the committee announced. The Government of Canada indicated that they are committed to exempting offshore exploration wells from project-specific federal reviews where a regional assessment has been conducted.

“A regional assessment will be a wholesome review of the offshore area and include environmental and safety expectations, along with a review of the socio-economic impacts of offshore activity,” commented Johnson. “The advocacy efforts of Noia and other stakeholders have been successful to date with respect to exploration wells. Our fact-based approach to advocacy has helped create a clear understanding of how our industry is impacted by long review processes. Now, the Government of Canada must follow through with their stated intention and remove activities of short duration and well understood impacts, such as exploration wells, from the Designated Project List and enshrine this exemption in legislation through Bill C-69.”