Clock Runs Out On Old Harry Licence - Fight to Protect the Gulf Continues

Media Statement: licence to explore for oil and gas in the gulf

After more than ten long years, the licence to explore for oil and gas in the Gulf has been allowed to lapse by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador offshore petroleum board (C-NLOPB).

“We are still awaiting justice for the Gulf of St Lawrence,” according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director of Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “The need to protect the Gulf is even greater than ever and we and our allies continue to call for a complete moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf.”

“Right whales in the Gulf have suffered heartbreaking losses in the last two years. They simply cannot withstand impacts of seismic blasting, oil drilling, or a massive spill.  We have proved that we will fight any move to blast and drill in the Gulf. It’s past time for a moratorium and serious efforts to restore the Gulf ecosystem must begin immediately. This needs to be a safe home for whales and other marine life, and the coastal communities that rely on a healthy Gulf.”

C-NLOPB issued the licence to explore at Old Harry in 2008. Public and scientific concern resulted in the offshore board and Corridor being asked to conduct greater assessment of impacts. In 2014, Indigenous leaders of the Gulf called for a complete moratorium on oil and gas in the Gulf. Even though the Accords Act dictates that licences should expire in nine years, the board extended the licence to Corridor Resources (now known as Headwater Exploration Inc.) in 2017. An email sent by the CEO of the C-NLOPB confirmed the licence lapsed on Jan 15th when a deposit required to keep the licence active was not received from Headwater. Two oil exploration licences remain for the Quebec portion of the Gulf.

“We still need to know if the offshore Board is allowed to extend leases indefinitely, and essentially use legitimate concerns raised by the public and Indigenous groups about environmentally risky projects as an excuse to keep those same risky projects alive beyond their best-before date. As the Newfoundland and Labrador government plans to drill 100 new exploration wells in the next ten years, and two licences remain in the Gulf, a decision from our justice system on this question is crucial.”

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