Too close for com­fort

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Editorial -

Fri­day, Nov. 14, brought what may be the worst oil spill so far in the East Coast off­shore. Husky En­ergy’s SeaRose pro­duc­tion ves­sel spilled as much as 250,000 litres of oil into the ocean that morn­ing. Much of that oil is un­likely to be re­cov­ered and has in­stead been widely dis­persed. The SeaRose is the same ves­sel that failed to fol­low ice­berg pro­to­cols in March 2017, and was al­most hit by an ice­berg.

Mean­while, the Canada-New­found­land and Labrador Off­shore Pe­tro­leum Board (C-NLOPB) and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment are still tied up in the usual co­nun­drum. That’s the prob­lem of be­ing oil in­dus­try pro­po­nents, pro­mot­ers, own­ers - and reg­u­la­tors.

Three days af­ter the lat­est spill, pro­vin­cial Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Siob­han Coady was talk­ing tough about the spill in the House of As­sem­bly:

“We are go­ing to make sure that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is thor­ough, as a gov­ern­ment ... let’s make sure first of all that we con­tain this oil spill to­day, and then get to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as to why it oc­curred and how can we pre­vent it in the fu­ture.”

But not only is Coady the lead point per­son for the prov­ince on oil reg­u­la­tions, she’s also the spokesper­son for the prov­ince as a share­holder. She’s the cen­tral con­tact for the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s part­ner­ship with Husky En­ergy - the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment ne­go­ti­ated a five per cent stake in the White Rose Ex­pan­sion pro­ject in 2007.

The C-NLOPB? Well, its last sig­nif­i­cant news re­lease be­fore the spill was one an­nounc­ing record bids by oil com­pa­nies for ex­plo­ration work - the re­sult of the board’s lat­est mar­ket­ing of off­shore oil­field ter­ri­tory.

And Husky En­ergy? The oil com­pany is har­vest­ing a re­source from this prov­ince’s wa­ters, and con­tam­i­nat­ing those wa­ters with a spill, but didn’t even seem to see much need to ex­plain what hap­pened to the res­i­dents of this prov­ince be­fore is­su­ing a brief up­date the fol­low­ing Mon­day.

Doesn’t any­one see the dis­con­nect here? Or, more to the point, doesn’t any­one won­der about how in­ter­con­nected ev­ery­thing is?

Things have to change.

When the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is ac­tively cam­paign­ing for faster, cheaper oil­field reg­u­la­tion and much more oil ex­plo­ration, it can’t also be an ef­fec­tive reg­u­la­tor. When the prov­ince holds an eq­uity stake in oil­fields and signs con­tracts that prom­ise, as the He­bron con­tract does, that the prov­ince will, “use all rea­son­able ef­forts to as­sist the pro­po­nents in se­cur­ing com­mit­ments from Canada and mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments in the prov­ince re­gard­ing the le­gal and reg­u­la­tory frame­work ap­pli­ca­ble to a de­vel­op­ment pro­ject,” it can’t be an ef­fec­tive reg­u­la­tor.

When the C-NLOPB is an oil­field mar­keter, it can’t also be an ef­fec­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal and safety reg­u­la­tor.

It’s time for a com­pletely in­de­pen­dent safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tor. One with teeth and no messy con­flict­ing in­ter­ests.

Be­cause right now, it all looks a lit­tle cosy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.