Skip to content

South Shore chapter concerned by Shell offshore drilling southwest of Nova Scotia

The Council of Canadians South Shore chapter will be holding a “Do Oil and Water Mix?” strategy and information event in Mahone Bay on January 29.

The speakers will include LJM Environmental lawyer Lisa Mitchell, Clean Oceans Action Coalition director John Davis, Dalhousie University professor Michael Bradfield, and Sierra Club Canada-Atlantic director Gretchen Fitzgerald.

The chapter notes, “The afternoon will also provide two short, informal sessions to talk with representatives from local organizations—for example, the Ecology Action Centre, Divest Dal, Sierra Club, and Marine Protected Areas. The last portion of the afternoon will be a strategy session when all participants will break into groups to focus on one or two strategies and connect with allies working to protect our marine resources and coastal communities that depend on them.”

In October 2015, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board granted approval to Shell to drill two oil wells on the edge of the Scotian Shelf, a geological formation located southwest of Nova Scotia. Its drilling at the Cheshire well site was completed in September 2016 and at its Monterey Jack well site this past January 12.

A media report highlights Shell already has the “operations authorization” it needs to drill five more wells in the area.

The South Shore chapter is working to defend the Atlantic Ocean from oil drilling through its project, the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS). The Canadian Press has reported, “The Scotian Shelf includes some of the province’s richest fishing grounds for haddock, and a huge spawning area for lobster.” The fisheries industry is worth over $1 billion to the economy of Nova Scotia and there are major concerns about the impact of this drilling and potential spills.

In October 2016, CPONS coordinating committee member Peter Puxley wrote in The Toronto Star about a drilling “incident” at the Cheshire well. He concluded, “The lesson of Shell’s recent ‘incident’ at its Cheshire well is that we need to democratize the process of deciding if we can safely drill for oil, and whether and where the risks of doing so are acceptable. Until we take steps to ensure full and informed public involvement in those decisions, further approvals for drilling exploratory wells in our vulnerable offshore can’t be trusted and should be annulled.”

Beyond the issue of oil spills in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore drilling contributes to climate change. Because of the long lead times associated with offshore drilling, it is inconsistent with reducing carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving a 100 per cent clean energy economy by 2050.

And earlier this month, Radio Canada International reported, “Scientists have found a new population of Northern bottlenose whales off Canada’s east coast and are worried they will be harmed by seismic testing for oil and gas.” Dalhousie University professor Hal Whitehead says the beaked whales may be particularly affected by the sound from underwater seismic testing.

To join the chapter’s campaign, please email southshore.cpons@gmail.com