BP Canada has received a green light from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to begin oil and gas exploration off the province’s coast over a three-year period, and a BP spokesperson says the company expects to start drilling soon.
The drill site, involving up to seven exploration wells, is located about 330 kilometres off Halifax, The Canadian Press reports.
BP Canada’s regional manager for Nova Scotia, Anita Perry, said the company is “confident we addressed all issues and risks for a safe drilling program.” And CNSOPB spokesperson Stacy O’Rourke told CP the board would keep a close eye on the project. “Once an authorization is granted, the board’s work is really just beginning,” she said.
Council of Canadians Atlantic Regional Organizer Angela Giles said she was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the project approval, adding that the risk of an oil spill is the Council’s biggest concern. “While these catastrophic incidents are not common, they’re possible, and no amount of regulations can completely protect us from that happening,” she told CP, noting that communities along the U.S. Gulf Coast are still living with the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
That project was a BP operation, as well. In Nova Scotia, the company has regulatory approval to drill wells that are twice as deep.
Premier Stephen McNeil, speaking over the weekend from the Liberal Party convention in Halifax, said appropriate measures would be taken to protect health, safety, and the environment.
“That resource, if it becomes available, and the costs associated with that, will be managed in a way that actually allows us to build in the services that Nova Scotians want, but making sure that if there’s a fluctuation, they’re not put in jeopardy,” he said.
“Yes, we’d use some of that (revenue) to put in health care, and education, and looking after vulnerable citizens,” he added. “But at the same time, we would leave some set aside that we’re able to make sure that when the [oil] price changes, we’d be able to weather that storm.”
McNeil said BP had taken steps to “strengthen regulations” since Deepwater Horizon, CP reports.