Newfoundland and Labrador is offering C$175 million to the owners of the dormant Terra Nova offshore oilfield, but only if oil starts pumping again.
The announcement came late last Thursday afternoon, The Canadian Press reports, as rumours of an impending election intensified and funding announcements flowed freely from the governing minority Liberals. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey confirmed those rumours Friday, setting Election Day for February 13 after a flurry of releases and announcement.
“Armed with a lead in the public opinion polls that any premier should envy, Furey is taking the Liberals—and the rest of us—into the next general election,” writes CBC correspondent John Gushue. “The most recent tracking poll from Narrative Research (formerly Corporate Research Associates) suggested that, in the late fall, Furey and the Liberals had a 32-point lead over Ches Crosbie’s Tories among decided voters.” An earlier version of the poll, in September, gave Furey a 40-point margin.
“There’s another bunch of data that might be influencing the decision-making in Liberal circles, and that’s the relatively low number of new COVID-19 cases in the province,” Gushue adds. He says the government may also be trying to win a majority mandate before receiving the report of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team (PERT), amid concerns the advisors could call for budget and program cuts and privatization of public services.
Back to the Terra Nova announcement, CP notes that Suncor Energy is the majority stakeholder in the oilfield, where restart operations were halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic and crashing oil prices.
The province says the conditional funding is part of a non-binding memorandum of understanding, which includes a commitment from government to adjust its royalty entitlements.
The money comes from a $320-million federal envelope given to the province this fall to boost its sputtering offshore oil sector.
Furey’s government gave Husky Energy $41.5 million in December for its stalled West White Rose project, but that money wasn’t contingent on the company reviving the project.