Call for public inquiry into Offshore NS bolstered by recent news

With the recent news that MKI is holding off on their massive seismic project offshore Nova Scotia, and BP releasing ½ of their lease area, now is the perfect time to initiate a public inquiry into the offshore industry in the province.


The beauty of South Shore Nova Scotia as captured by Robert van Waarden

CBC reported last week that Multiklient Invest, a Norwegian engineering and construction company that has completed stage one of an environmental assessment, announced it is putting “the brakes on its plans to search for oil or natural gas beneath the ocean off Nova Scotia's coast,” postponing phase 2 for one year.

MKI’s project description submitted to the CNSOPB in August 2018 includes an image of the proposed project area (page 7) which is a vast distance - literally the length of Nova Scotia’s waters on the Atlantic Ocean coast, from the border with the US at Maine to the border of Newfoundland and Labrador’s waters.

The announcement from BP Canada came earlier this week. The Canadian Press reported Tuesday that, “BP Canada is scaling back its oil and gas exploration plans off Nova Scotia, giving up half the offshore area included in its exploration licence. More information is also on the CNSOPB website here.


The West Aquarius, the rig used for BP Canada's drilling offshore Nova Scotia in 2018. Photo from The Canadian Press

“Peter Puxley, a founding member of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia, said he welcomes BP's evident paring down of its plans as well as the recent postponement of seismic surveys in the area.

"These decisions give us the breather Nova Scotia needs to reconsider its reckless embrace of risky deep sea drilling in the unruly North Atlantic," he said in an email.

The Offshore Alliance, of which the Council is a member, issued a media release last week expressing a commitment to achieving a public inquiry.

“Now is the perfect time for a moratorium and inquiry,” says John Davis of the Clean Ocean Action Committee, an organization representing more than 9000 people who are wholly dependent on our ocean’s renewable resources. “With no major projects on the horizon, little evidence that there is any oil off our shores, and mounting evidence about the risks of even looking for more oil, this is the appropriate time for the federal government to initiate an independent inquiry into the economic, social, and physical impacts offshore drilling.”


Photo credit: Robert van Waarden

All of this recent news bodes well for not only an inquiry, but a commitment to a just transition to a renewable economy for the future of Nova Scotia and Canada. Marion Moore with the South Shore chapter and the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS) also stated, “We can build the jobs we need in the renewable economy. By stopping offshore drilling and exploration we can ensure the preservation of thousands of good Nova Scotian jobs spread across Nova Scotia in the fishing and tourism industries...”

We will continue to have these struggles as long as short-term thinking, the economy and capitalism are prioritized in everything we do. Governments will continue to approve offshore drilling, risking sustainable industries that have been the backbone of our East Coast economies for generations in exchange for the pittance the fossil fuel industry has to offer: a handful of high paying jobs and comparatively tiny royalties from dirty industry.

The Council chapters and allies see this moment as an opportunity and will continue to push for a moratorium and public inquiry.