Just before Christmas, Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady announced the provincial government had established an oil and gas industry development council and appointed nine members to the organization. Coady will chair the council and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association will have permanent members on it.
The government has been vague as to what it wants the council to accomplish. But the Liberal government’s long-term plan for the province, The Way Forward, has made it a priority to position the province as a preferred location for oil and gas development. In an interview with Natural Resources Magazine shortly after she became natural resources minister in 2016, Coady said the council would, “focus on strategic improvements. We want to look at a vision for the province with a foundation of success built on excellence and innovation.”
The council members have a diverse set of skills. They include business development, supply chain management, labour relations, resource development, regulatory environment, research and innovation. The council members include plenty of well-known names in the provincial offshore oil circle like Robert Crosbie, chairman of St. John’s-based Crosbie Group Limited, Kim Keating, vice-president of fabrication with the Cahill Group and Malcolm MacLean, Husky Energy’s senior vice-president, Atlantic Region. Besides Coady and Keating, the other woman on the council is Stephanie Hickman, a partner in the St. John’s office of the Cox & Palmer law firm.
The creation of the council comes as the province deals with a prolonged slump in oil prices that played a large part in a projected $1.58 billion deficit the Liberal government forecast in a 2016 fiscal update. The council met for the first time on Jan. 18 to discuss its missions and mandate and it will meet monthly. Finding ways to encourage more exploration from oil and gas companies and speed up development of discoveries like Statoil’s Bay du Nord will likely be two major issues the council will tackle as it tries to chart a new course for the offshore oil sector.