Call for bids in Newfoundland part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

  • Published on Nov 14 2014 |
  • This article is tagged as: marins, gaspesie |

St.Lawrence Coalition press release

None of the four oil/gas exploration licences find a taker

Montreal, 14 November 2014 – On May 16, 2013, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) offered to the oil industry the opportunity to acquire four huge oil exploration licenses totalizing more than 10,000 square kilometers in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. The bidding ended November 12, 2014 and the C-NLOPB has revealed today the results: none of the four exploration licenses offered have been sold to the oil industry.

This call for bids is the first conducted under the new system for allocating licenses while a minimum of $10 million is now required for the purchase of each license. Despite the alleged oil potential in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it seems that oil exploration companies are heavily reluctant to invest.

According to the St. Lawrence Coalition several reasons can explain this lack of interest: “It is possible that the oil companies have serious doubts about the real potential of the Gulf of St.Lawrence. It is also possible that the lack of social acceptance, the fierce opposition of First Nations, the increased risks of operating in the inland sea that is the Gulf, as well as uncertainty about the interprovincial boundary between Quebec and Newfoundland may have played a role in the failure of oil companies to invest in the Gulf”, according to Sylvain Archambault, spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

“We see that in Newfoundland, companies are reluctant to invest in oil exploration as soon as we impose licences costs that are somewhat significant and that we manifest some opposition to such projects. Why would Quebec take huge risks by lifting its moratorium in the Gulf and then go ahead with exploratory drilling done by a junior company that obtained its license for a pittance for the Old Harry prospect?” asked Christian Simard of Nature Québec.

While oil exploration companies are reluctant to invest in the Gulf, it is fair to remember that perhaps its future rather lies in its protection and restoration: “The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a biological wealth and its sustainable fishery and tourism potential should be valued”, says Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Project Manager at the David Suzuki Foundation. “We should see this lack of interest of oil companies as an opportunity to put a moratorium in place for the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence. Such a moratorium would allow us to study, in conjunction with the five neighbouring provinces, the relevance of opening this unique ecosystem to oil exploration” concluded Mr. Toussaint.

Even though no new player is interested in venturing into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Corridor Resources’ drilling project at Old Harry is still under study, being currently at the stage of environmental evaluation.

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The St. Lawrence Coalition is composed of 85 organizations and associations, including First Nations, and over 5000 individuals from various economic sectors and the 5 coastal provinces. Members of the Coalition are calling for a moratorium on exploration and exploitation of oil and gas across the Gulf of St.Lawrence.
Please download the St. Lawrence Coaltion report on oil exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence “Gulf 101”


Sylvain Archambault
Spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition

CPAWS Quebec
Cell : 581-995-4350

Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science Project manager
David Suzuki Foundation – Quebec

Cell: 438-884-4720

Christian Simard
General director
Nature Québec

Cell: 418-928-1150