Tag Archives: Shell Canada

Shell Awaiting Green Light For Offshore Drilling In Nova Scotia


By Black Powder | Red Power Media, Staff

The Canadian government gave Shell Canada Ltd. permission to drill for oil off Nova Scotia’s coast — and the company doesn’t need to cap an oil blowout for 3 weeks, potentially wreaking environmental havoc on marine life and coastal communities.

Pending approval from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), Shell will begin drilling the first of two exploratory wells within the next few months.

On June 15, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, signed off on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s assessment of Shell Canada’s Shelburne Basin Venture Exploration Drilling Project.

The Harper government has accepted, with conditions, the environmental assessment that is one step in Shell Oil’s application to drill for oil off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Four ships are standing by in Halifax Harbour, waiting for Shell to get the green light to hunt for oil in the deep waters.

The two wells will be located in the Shelburne Basin about 250 kilometres offshore Halifax. The drilling would happen near major fishing grounds and the Sable Island National Park Reserve.

In recent weeks, concerns have been raised over regulations that would give the company 21 days to get equipment in place in the event of a major blowout.

A number of groups, including the Ecology Action Centre, Coldwater Lobster Association and Clean Ocean Action Committee, have opposed the idea of taking up to three weeks to cap a blowout.

A small group of fishermen, activists and politicians braved a cold, gray day to air concerns about offshore oil exploration during a protest on Shelburne’s waterfront on Oct. 3.

Queens-Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau said a plan that would allow oil companies three weeks to cap such a blowout was an insult to the fishing industry.

“It’s simply unacceptable,” he said.

As a result, the MLA is calling for an emergency meeting of the provincial Standing Committee on Resources to discuss the issue.

The April 2010 explosion at British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon offshore rig killed 11 workers. (U.S. Coast Guard/Associated Press)

The April 2010 explosion at British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon offshore rig killed 11 workers. (U.S. Coast Guard/Associated Press)

Shell Canada outlined some of its plans for the Shelburne Basin, an area with a geological makeup that is conducive to holding a sizable amount of hydrocarbons.

The company has plans to drill up to seven wells over a four-year period as part of a $1-billion exploration program.

It will drill another well called Monterrey Jack next year and then analyze the data culled from the two sites.

“If we find hydrocarbons in the first two exploration wells, after we’ve collected all of our data, after we’ve analyzed it, we may come back and drill three more exploration wells,” said Christine Pagan, the company’s venture manager for Atlantic Canada.

“But if there’s no success in the first two wells, and we’ve analyzed the data, we won’t be coming back.”

Shell has contracted the Stena IceMax, the drill ship it will use off Nova Scotia, for five years.

The ship, now being used in the Gulf of Mexico, can accommodate up to 180 people, though Shell will likely have 160 to 170 on board at any given time.

More than 100 of those people will be Canadian, half of them from Nova Scotia.

A standby vessel will accompany the drill ship at all times, and there will be three supply ships stationed in Halifax Harbour. Roughly 90 per cent of the workers staffing those vessels will be from Nova Scotia.

“On any given day, one or another of those vessels will be on its way, to or from the rig with materials and whatever is needed for the operation,” Pagan said.

The dynamically positioned Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit which Shell plans to use to drill the first exploration wells offshore Nova Scotia.

The dynamically positioned Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit which Shell plans to use to drill the first exploration wells offshore Nova Scotia.

The U.S. requires oil companies to have blowout-capping equipment on site within 24 hours. Canada is giving Shell 21 days to bring equipment in from Norway after a blowout happens 5,000 kilometres away.

Court sides with Feds in Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s case



By Vincent McDermott | Fort McMurray Today

A federal court has rejected the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation’s claims that Ottawa poorly consulted First Nation leadership during its review of a proposed Shell Canada project.

The First Nation was hoping the court would overturn Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq’s approval of Shell Canada’s planned Jackpine Mine expansion, a project located 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. The June 2013 approval came with 88 recommended conditions.

“Regardless of this decision, it’s obvious to ACFN there has not been adequate consultation to thoroughly understand the long term impacts or proven ways to mitigate the destruction of these massive development projects,” said Chief Allan Adam of the ACFN in a statement.

The legal challenge was filed last fall in Vancouver. ACFN’s legal team was based in the province and the band feared an Alberta court would be biased against their Treaty arguments. Spokesperson Eriel Deranger also said that, at the time, First Nations are typically big winners in B.C. courts.

However, Justice Daniele Tremblay-Lamer ruled she could not find anything wrong with the consultation process.

“Within its jurisdictional authority, Canada has endeavoured to accommodate the ACFN with conditions binding on Shell and through more expansive regulatory schemes; in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction, Canada has committed itself to collaborating with Alberta and offering support,” she wrote in her conclusion.

“The Project’s conditions were designed with a measure of flexibility precisely so that they could adapt to changes and developments in the Project, which is still at the preliminary stage,” wrote Tremblay-Lamer. “Canada’s accommodations, adequate in themselves, bear witness to the attentive, responsive consultation that Canada has afforded the ACFN throughout the process.”

Shell applied for the Jackpine expansion in 2007. The project would increase output by 100,000 barrels a day, bringing the total to 300,000.

During a 2012 joint review panel, the ACFN and the Mikisew Cree, as well as local non-status Indians, joined the Metis Nation of Alberta and several Metis locals in opposition. All parties argued they had not been adequately consulted by Shell Canada or the federal government.

They also argued the project would disturb 12,719 hectares of land and destroy 21 kilometres of the Muskeg River, territory they all said was culturally, historically and traditionally significant.

The panel approved the project, but agreed with many of those points, concluding the project would permanently destroy thousands of hectares of wetlands, disrupting the migration patterns of birds, caribou and other local wildlife. It also said Shell’s mitigation and reclamation strategies were inadequate or unproven.

“The parameters around consultation are so loose in this country that we have seen a devolution of who in fact is supposed to do consultation,” said Deranger.

Deranger says when Treaty 8 was signed in 1899, consultation would be done with the federal government via agents of the Crown.

But in recent years, she says Ottawa has shifted that burden to the province’s after provincial governments were given more authority over resource development.

“Governments deal with our rights by ‘ticking boxes’ and not dealing with the real issues,” said Adam in a statement. “If the Crown continues to treat consultation as a game, we won’t be playing.”

Since the project was first submitted, both Shell and both levels of government have argued they have regularly met with ACFN. Shell Canada spokesperson Jeff Mann said the company would not comment on the judge’s decision, but said the company plans to continue meeting with ACFN in 2015.

Deranger says the band does not yet plan to appeal the ruling, since Tremblay-Lamer suggested some of the band’s concerns could be addressed by the provincial government.

“We are looking at how they will address our concerns, but if things are not looking favourable, then we will look at other options for recourse.”