Odds and ends from NOIA 2018

Yesterday was the opening day of NOIA’s 2018 oil and gas conference held in St. John’s, and this year’s conference theme is ‘The Time is Now.’

Time was definitely on the minds of many of the speakers on Tuesday’s program – chiefly the time it already takes to get approval to drill any sort of well in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore, and concerns the federal Liberal government’s proposed changes to environmental assessments of resource extraction projects will add even more time to that process and chase away more investment.

Here are a few highlights from Tuesday’s speakers.

Jim Irving, co-CEO of JD Irving Ltd. (and Atlantic Towing in St. John’s), warned attendees that “mounting policies and red tape” threaten the viability of Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil sector.

Irving claims that changes to several federal policies cost time and create duplication and that Ottawa’s Bill C-69 will result in an “erosion of investment.”

He called on all residents of the province to stand up for the offshore oil sector – something echoed by other speakers yesterday (more on this later).

“You need a collective voice to ensure Ottawa is informed. Every voice counts,” Irving said.

ExxonMobil Canada president Carmen Mullins told the attendees on Monday that the Hebron oil field, which achieved first oil back in November 2017 is performing quite nicely – producing approximately nine million barrels of oil so far.

But she agreed with other speakers that Ottawa’s proposed regulatory changes are on her radar, even as she said the company ““remains optimistic for future growth” in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nalcor Oil and Gas’ Jim Keating – the Crown corporation’s oil and gas boss – was busy on day one of the conference talking up the province’s offshore oil potential and the fact it has a strong plan in place to have Newfoundland and Labrador reach that potential.

He talked up the Raleigh prospect that will be included in the 2018 licensing round as being one that could contain an elephant-sized discovery.

Keating said Raleigh isn’t the only tantalizing prospect the province has. He said it’s offshore has “a couple of dozen true monster prospects” and is confident some will contain hydrocarbons if they are ever drilled on.

He also said Newfoundland and Labrador has 650 prospects in total and they are “all drillable.”

Husky Energy Inc.’s top executive in Atlantic Canada, Trevor Pritchard, didn’t provide a lot of information about the Calgary-based company’s two discoveries – made at wells A-24 and A-78 near it’s White Rose oil field in 2017.

Pritchard didn’t provide any timeline on when the company will announce the size of the finds. He said it will “take some time to do the level of analysis on the A-24 discovery”, which was only announced in May,

Finally, former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, currently a special advisor to the Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt law firm, warned the crowd that it has to fight the “New Left” from trying to put an end to oil and gas development in Canada.

“They want to stop what you are doing,” Wall told the crowd during his Tuesday luncheon address. “You are in the cross hairs of the New Left. You are a target.”

Wall said Newfoundland and Labrador and the offshore oil industry here needs to promote the benefits of the sector and treat it like a political campaign to win the hears and minds of undecided Canadians.

He advised the sector to appeal to Canadians pragmatism and pride and to test and measure what messages work best, just like political parties do during an election.

“Every good campaign is able to set the ballot question before its opponents do,” Wall said. “Aim small and miss small. Tell the stories of residents who have jobs because of this industry or grandparents who don’t have to Facetime their grandchildren because their parents have been able to get jobs at home due to the industry.”

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