Ottawa approves controversial Newfoundland and Labrador oil mining project

The Bay du Nord oil project has been approved by the federal government, paving the way for Equinor ASA's proposal to drill off the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland.

Equinor, the project's operator, estimates that Bay du Nord will be worth $3.5 billion to the provincial government.

The move comes amid pressure on oil-producing countries to assist Europe as it withdraws from Russian energy supplies due to the Ukraine conflict, and follows a four-year assessment by Canada's Impact Assessment Agency.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault announced on Wednesday that he has determined the project, which is located about 500 kilometres east of St. John's, "is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects."

Despite the fact that there are offshore projects near Newfoundland and Labrador, this would be the deepest and most distant.

In comparison to other current offshore operations, which drill at 100 metres or less, drilling at Bay du Nord would take place at a depth of up to 1,200 metres.

Those opposed to the project have increased their efforts, drawing attention to the 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide the project is expected to emit into the atmosphere each year.

They point out the irony of committing Newfoundland and Labrador to a 30-year oil project at a time when experts say the province desperately needs help making a just transition to clean energy.

According to Caroline Brouillette, national policy manager for Climate Action Network Canada, the decision is all the more startling because it was made the same week as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and shortly after Canada's new climate plan.


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