The Council of Canadians and Offshore Alliance is calling for a moratorium on offshore drilling and exploration in the wake of the renewal of British Petroleum Canada exploration licences off Nova Scotia on Friday.
“The offshore petroleum board is letting BP call the shots about our climate,” Robin Tress with the Council of Canadians said in a news release.“It’s clear that Nova Scotians want strong climate action and to build a resilient economy that can respond to the climate crisis, but the government continues to let corporations call the shots.”
The Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNOPB) was notified by BP Canada that the company would forfeit its $2-million drilling deposit paid in 2020 and pay a further drilling deposit of $3 million to extend its exploration period for an additional year.The additional drilling deposit extends the licence to the full nine years permitted under legislation and changes the expiry date of the licence to Jan. 14, 2022.
If BP Canada decides to drill another well during the extension period, it will be required to apply to CNSOPB for authorization. If the company does not begin drilling a well by the Jan. 14, 2022, licence expiration date, it will forfeit its latest drilling deposit of $3 million and the exploration licence will expire.
“People in Nova Scotia are working hard to create a sustainable and equitable future for our communities in the face of the climate crisis, but it’s hard to imagine how we can succeed if the government is going to do the exact opposite of what scientists tell us is necessary to maintain a stable global climate,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, national program director with Sierra Club Canada Foundation and co-chairwoman of the Offshore Alliance, an umbrella organization for 22 member groups that wants offshore exploration and drilling suspended.
“Scientists have been saying for years that we must stop exploring for new fossil fuel reserves, and rapidly decrease extraction,” Fitzgerald said.
Marion Moore of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia said it’s disappointing to see the government prioritize profits for some of the world’s richest and polluting companies over the pressing needs of communities.
“The CNSOPB continues to work in support of the fossil fuel industry and ignore the real risks that offshore drilling and exploration poses to Nova Scotia’s communities, economy and climate,” Moore said.
John Davis, chairman of the Clean Ocean Action Committee that represents more than 9,000 fishermen, vessel owners and fish plant owners, said a “multi-billion-dollar fishing industry and a multi-million-dollar tourism industry,” require a clean, oil-free ocean.
“BP is not a good neighbour,” Davis sad. “They hold one of the worst spill records in the offshore oil industry. They simply should not be allowed on the Scotian Shelf.”
The Council of Canadians and the Offshore Alliance, along with with almost 69,000 people across the country, are calling for a moratorium on offshore drilling and exploration, and an independent inquiry on the social, economic and environmental impacts of offshore drilling.