Oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: should we worry?

Photo: flickr.com/drgonwoman

The St. Lawrence Coalition meets with environmental groups from around the gulf and tours Newfoundland to raise awareness

Magdalen Islands, April 5th 2012 – With pending oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence generating much concern, representatives of over twenty environmental groups from all five Gulf provinces will gather on April 16th in Norris Point, NL, for a strategic meeting.

Initiated by the St. Lawrence Coalition, the meeting’s foremost objective is to exchange concerns and develop strategies for the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including a call for a moratorium on oil and gas development.

“It will be the first time that so many environmental groups from all five provinces gather to develop strategies in order to secure a moratorium for the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence and plan specific actions both in the short and long terms. This will also be a great opportunity to establish an effective network of key players across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.” said Danielle Giroux, spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.

The St. Lawrence Coalition will also be hosting three public conferences/discussions on oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the upcoming public consultations for the Western Newfoundland Offshore Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) update. These conferences will take place in Corner Brook and Stephenville on April 17th and in St. John’s on April 19th.

The Canada-Newfoundland-and-Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (The Board) is currently conducting an update of the SEA on oil and gas development in Newfoundland’s sector of the Gulf and it will hold public consultations, which are likely to occur during the summer of 2012. It is essential for the public and communities to participate in large numbers if they want to have their voice heard on the future and fate of the Gulf. Unfortunately few citizens are adequately informed of these major and complex issues.

“It is essential to mobilize rapidly the Newfoundland coastal communities to inform them on these issues and motivate them to participate in the public consultations planned by the Board. Four communities in Western Newfoundland and five in other provinces have been selected to participate in preliminary consultations. Later in the process, the general public will get a chance to participate in the consultations by sending comments online. It is therefore important that people have access to the information needed to make an informed decision and voice their concerns about the future of the Gulf.” said Jean-Patrick Toussaint, Science project manager at the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF).

The conferences and discussions will be given by Ms Danielle Giroux (Attention FragÎles), Sylvain Archambault (CPAWS-QC), and Jean-Patrick Toussaint (DSF-QC). The conference in St. John’s will be jointly organized with Nature Newfoundland and Labrador and with the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Network (NLEN):

The Gulf of St. Lawrence: Exploring the risks of oil and gas development in a unique and fragile ecosystem:

 Corner Brook : Tuesday, April 17th at 12:30 pm, Grenfell Campus Room 3019, Forest Centre, Corner Brook

 Stephenville : Tuesday, April 17th at 7:00 pm, Western College, 128 Carolina Avenue, Stephenville

 St. John’s: Thursday, April 19th at 7:00 pm, Memorial University, Room SN 2109, Science Building, Prince Philip Drive, St. John’s

To view the poster announcing the conferences, please click here.

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The St. Lawrence Coalition is composed of 80 organizations and associations, including First Nations, and over 3500 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.

Sources :

Danielle Giroux
Spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition (french interviews)
President, Attention FragÎles
418-986-6644 / coalitionstlaurent@me.com

Manon Dubois, Communications specialist
David Suzuki Foundation
514-583-8455 / mdubois@davidsuzuki.org

Sylvain Archambault, Protected areas and land use coordinator
CPAWS Québec chapter
418-686-1854 / sarchambault@snapqc.org

3 thoughts on “Oil and gas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: should we worry?

  1. Come on NL environment network get off your high horses. Shouldn’t you view these three representatives from Quebec with a jaundice eye. Quebec doesn’t have any respect for our boundaries. Take a look at current Quebec SEA on the Gulf St Lawrence where they show no respect for the Southern Labrador- Quebec boundary.
    The coalition St Laureen doesn’t believe that the CNLOPB has the legitimate right to oversea Oil and Gas exploration in the Gulf of St Lawrence. However, they completely ignore the experience that CNLOPB has in overseeing Oil development and exploration in iceberg alley. My only complaint with CNLOPB is there lack of commitment in western NL oil and gas exploration.
    These people from Quebec are looking for a cause and they completely ignore NL’s right to develop their resources in a environmentally and sustainable way.
    Don’t you think oil and gas in the st Lawrence can be developed more safely than our proven development in Iceberg Alley. Several offshore oil wells have been drilled safely in Gulf St Lawrence eg. hunt A-36 well, Brion island well and East Point of PEI. The horse is already out of the barn,
    Come on NL environment network try and be a little bit loyal to NL. I certainly see your network rather than looking for a moratorium on gulf oil exploration taking on a roll of seeing that this exploration is done safely and sustainable

    Cape Anguille


  2. Edward,
    Thanks for the comment. From the perspective of the NL Environment Network, there seems to be a low level of public awareness in Western Newfoundland concerning the risks and benefits of offshore oil drilling in the Gulf. I think you’d agree that Newfoundland, particularly Western Newfoundland communities, need to look at this very carefully before giving any sanction. A moratorium on drilling would allow time for collective and cautious decision making, informed by science. Oil and gas development in the Gulf poses real risks to tourism and fishing industries along the west coast and Northern Peninsula, and to all other provinces that we share the Gulf with. I don’t think that “the horse is already out of the barn”, as you point out. Though there is lots of seismic work being done, to the best of my knowledge there is no exploration drilling at present. Thanks for weighing in on this. Hopefully in the coming months, we’ll see a lot more discussion and debate on this issue in communities throughout western Newfoundland.

    – Chris Hogan
    NL Environment Network


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