The supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador invalidates a decision in 2017 by the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador offshore petroleum board to give four more years to the company Corridor Resources to start drilling for oil in the sector of Old Harry, gulf of St. Lawrence.
July 12, 2020 17h16
Oil drilling in the Old Harry: the court invalidates a extension of permit
CARLETON – The supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador invalidates a decision in 2017 by the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador offshore petroleum board to give four more years to the company Corridor Resources to start drilling for oil in the sector of Old Harry, gulf of St. Lawrence.
In a judgment delivered on 3 July, the judge Rosalie McGrath indicates that Corridor Resources, which is now called Headwater Exploration, would not have had to benefit from this extension of four years, because she had exhausted between 2008 and 2017 nine-year period provided by law for the filing of a proposed exploratory drilling and to carry it to term.
In 2017, Corridor Resources was sent to the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador offshore petroleum board (OCTNLHE) to request the extension of the licence until 2021, claiming that external factors had prevented him from fulfilling all of its duties since 2008.
The OCTNLHE, which is the regulatory body responsible for processing applications for exploration in the sea-side, newfoundland and labradorien of the gulf, had responded favourably to the request of the company, using a provision in its constitutive act.
This provision, contained in article 61, provided on paper to the OCTNLHE the latitude to issue a new licence for four years, to Corridor Resources. This decision of 2017 has been questioned in the following months by the David Suzuki Foundation, associated with the St. Lawrence Coalition, who have been active for more than 10 years to set up a moratorium on drilling in the gulf. The hearing before the supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador had been heard in February 2019.
The judge McGrath ruled that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador could not in the circumstances give the discretion to extend a permit exploratory, even if this power was written into its constitutive. It therefore invalidated the extension of the permit from 2017.
Sylvain Archambault of the St. Lawrence Coalition welcomes the verdict of the judge MacGrath, even if in fact, the permit of Corridor-Headwater had been revoked by the OCTNLHE in January 2020, for non-compliance with the conditions laid down in the extension to 2017. The challenge of the Fondation David Suzuki was a great question of principle, ” he said.
“Presently, there is no oil project in the gulf. If ever a company was returning to the charge, it should start all over again : to win an exploration licence in a tender offer, submit a drilling project, find investors with very deep pockets, since they have assets of $ 1 billion to obtain the right to drill, conduct an environmental assessment, making the public consultations as well as consultations with aboriginal people,” said Mr. Archambault.
Ian Miron, a lawyer at Ecojustice, one of the five groups associated severally with the Foundation David Suzuki, is also looking forward to the verdict of the judge McGrath.
“Not only this decision protects the gulf and the communities that depend on a drilling project is risky, but it establishes an important precedent for regulators of oil and gas across Canada. There was just one year ago, in may 2019, the federal regulators have proposed extensions are artificial, similar to exploration licences about to expire in the Beaufort sea. The decision of the court sends out a clear message : such extensions are artificial are illegal”, note Me Miron.
Diego Creimer, of the David Suzuki Foundation, said for his part that “the gulf of St. Lawrence is a rich ecosystem, providing a living environment for hundreds of species and millions of Canadians. The oil exploration activities would put this fragile ecosystem at risk and poses a threat to fisheries and tourism, essential to the economy of the Atlantic region, in addition to threatening the traditional territories of First Nations. The federal government and the five provinces surrounding the gulf should work collaboratively with First Nations to protect this ecosystem, iconic canadian”.
Meanwhile, Danielle Giroux, president of Attention FragÎles, emphasizes that “the community of Îles-de-la-Madeleine, like other coastal communities of the gulf of St. Lawrence, welcomes the decision of the court. A industry: oil and gas in the gulf is totally incompatible with sustainable economic activities based on fisheries and tourism. This victory shows us the importance of constant vigilance and the mobilization of citizens to ensure the protection of the gulf”.