Now Reading
Bay du Nord oil project approved by the federal environment minister off Newfoundland

Bay du Nord oil project approved by the federal environment minister off Newfoundland

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. Steven Guilbeault, Federal Environment minister, has approved controversial new oil projects off the coast of Newfoundland. The project will be subject to strict emissions rules that Ottawa claims are the most severe ever imposed.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. Steven Guilbeault, Federal Environment minister, has approved controversial new oil projects off the coast of Newfoundland. The project will be subject to strict emissions rules that Ottawa claims are the most severe ever imposed.

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada published Wednesday’s decision stating that Equinor’s Bay du Nord project is allowed to proceed so long as it achieves net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The company will be required to offset or capture any emissions that the project creates by 2050. This is the first time that the federal government has placed such a condition on an electricity project.

Equinor is legally required to consider and include the best options for reducing carbon emissions until 2050.

Guilbeault stated in the 22-page decision statement that “I have determined the designated project is unlikely to cause significant adverse effects on the environment.”

However, the ex-environmental activist who used to lobby against oil & gas projects in his personal life before politics stated that the decision kept the former activist up at night.

Guilbeault stated that it was one of the most difficult decisions he’s ever had to take in an interview.

He stated that the government created a new process of environmental review for such projects, and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada was established to manage it. The goal is to take the politics out of the process.

Because the application was received at the same time, the project was reviewed using the old system. Guilbeault however stated that he couldn’t go against the recommendation of an independent agency.

“They recommended to me that after studying the Project for four years with 137 conditions including that it be net zero by 2050, their conclusion be that the Project could not have a significant impact.” he said. “So that was a challenge.

Bay du Nord is expected produce approximately 300 million barrels of crude oil over its lifetime. However, industry insiders in Newfoundland & Labrador believe that the number could rise to more than 800 million barrels. Equinor said Bay du Nord would likely begin production in the second decade. It will continue producing for between 20 and 30 years. Production is expected peak at around 200,000 barrels per hour.

The average greenhouse gas emissions from oil production is expected to be as low at eight kilograms per barrel. The average oil production in Canada produces 40 kilograms per barrel. In the oilsands, it is 80 kilograms.

Equinor predicts that the project will produce annual emissions of between 177.770 tonnes and 257.715 tons.

However, climate scientists and environmentalists oppose the project. They claim it would undermine Canada’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that the emissions from production ignore the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that will be produced by burning fossil fuels.

Wednesday’s government signaled that the conditions set by Bay du Nord, including net zero by 2050, would be the legal standard for any future federally approved oil and natural gas projects.

Guilbeault stated that oil consumption will drop by 2050, but there will still some demand for oil. It will only be for oil which is carbon neutral. He stated that projects like this one have a carbon footprint compatible to address climate change and will eventually replace oil production that does not.

“Well, that is what we must do,” he stated. “Unless other productions find a way to be carbon neutral, then that’s what the world is heading to.”

Alex Collins, Equinor spokesperson, stated that the Bay du Nord project “has potential to produce the lowest-carbon crude oil in the country.”

She said that Equinor was pleased with the strong support Bay du Nord has received from all stakeholders in Canada and the province.

Collins stated in an earlier statement that the company and its associates have not yet approved the development. She said that the company and its partners will make that decision “in the next few years.” Equinor claims that the project will bring in $3.5 billion to the cash-strapped Newfoundland and Labrador government.

Premier Andrew Furey, beaming at an evening media conference, said that the project would be an economic driver in his province. He claimed that the project will produce the lowest amount of greenhouse gases in the world and will meet the global demand for “low carbon, ethical oil”.

Furey said, “This will be an enormous step forward in our economic revival.”

See Also

Climate activists were not happy.

“(The] decision represents a triumph in the kind of politics which will only deepen climate crisis, global addiction to planetwrecking fossilfuels,” Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist, Greenpeace Canada, stated in an email statement.

“This decision is not just a climate failure. It is a failure in the imagination and investment in a sustainable energy future.

Caroline Brouillette is the national policy manager at Climate Action Network Canada. She said that this approval is threatening climate progress over the past few years.

She said, “Frankly, I find this heartbreaking.”

Brouillette stated that it was coming just two days following a United Nations climate report, which made it clear there is no room to increase oil and gas production if the world wants to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

She stated, “It’s so clearly incompatible with climate safety.”

This report by The Canadian Press first appeared April 6, 2022.

Sarah Smellie and Mia Rabson from The Canadian Press


View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.