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We Need Terra Nova, Probably More Than Ever

In the early 2000s the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore oil and gas industry was able to demonstrate its versatility and ingenuity through the adoption of FPSO technology in our offshore. Since the Terra Nova FPSO began production in 2002, we have gained new experience in floater construction, operation, management, and maintenance. We have demonstrated that this technology can be safely used in harsh environments and we can fully participate in the challenging practice of using an FPSO in areas where icebergs are not uncommon sights.

Now, a project that we worked hard to establish and harder to operate, a project that has provided tremendous benefits to our province with more on offer for at least another decade, may be lost.

An impending deadline for a decision to either proceed with the asset life extension project of the Terra Nova FPSO, or a move to abandonment and decommissioning of the vessel and field, is before us. Suncor Energy has said that a decision will come no later than June 15 and we wait, in a form of limbo, for that decision.

The value of this project should not be lost on anyone. When in production it provides almost 1,000 direct jobs and thousands of indirect and induced jobs. Along with those well-paying careers, the Terra Nova FPSO provides billions of dollars in royalties and taxes to our governments.

Moreover, the future of the Terra Nova FPSO puts into question the future of our offshore. While that is concerning, no matter what happens, I believe we can and will recover. And, while we are not ready for our industry to move to decommissioning of any project, I think our resource strength and our accumulated expertise will help us overcome and move the industry forward.

With that said, I am deeply concerned for the future of the almost 1,000 people who work directly on this project and the families they support. For our industry and province, the loss of the Terra Nova FPSO may very well mean the loss of those hardworking people. It may also mean the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, more people who work in the supply and service sector – Noia members – and who depend on the Terra Nova FPSO. These are the people who safely transport employees to and from the FPSO, they are the folks who conduct environmental monitoring and offer medical services, they provide food and equipment to the vessel, they conduct the ongoing maintenance required, and so much more. This does not include the thousands more who make their living through spinoffs greatly impacted by the offshore industry such as restaurants, hotels, B&Bs and campgrounds, car, RV, ATV, and real estate sales, and the many already struggling local businesses who heavily rely upon the consumer spending of those in the offshore industry. Further, there are hundreds of organizations in the community, sport, and volunteer sectors who depend upon the financial support of offshore organizations, along with the countless hours offshore employees give as community leaders.

If we lose these skilled people to other places, we lose a competitive advantage. But most importantly, we lose our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends to places throughout the world who will provide them an opportunity to put their skills to work and support their families. We will also lose future generations of entrepreneurs, volunteers, and leaders.

We cannot allow that to happen.

We need the Terra Nova FPSO, probably more than we did in 2002 when it first began production. Hopefully, good news comes on or before June 15. I ask all parties involved to find a solution in the best interest of the project, the people who rely upon it, and our province. Its too important not to.