Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna has given the go-ahead to BP Canada Energy Group’s plan to drill as many as seven exploration wells on the Scotian Shelf, approximately 230 to 370 kilometres off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia. The drilling will start in 2018 if permits and authorizations can be obtained, and will run for three years.
McKenna accepted the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s Environmental Assessment Report, which concluded that the project was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account the implementation of mitigation measures. The minister’s approval came with legally-binding conditions, including mitigation measures and follow-up requirements that the proponent must meet throughout the life of the project.
Those conditions haven’t appeased critics, many of whom are reviving the memory of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We’re fighting to keep offshore drilling out of Nova Scotia and protect the coasts and our communities from the devastation people continue to experience in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010,” said Marion Moore, member of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia, in a release. “Our communities rely on fisheries and coastal tourism for our livelihoods and economies, and offshore drilling puts it all at risk.”
Critics have zeroed-in on BP’s disaster response plan which, in the event of a worst-case scenario (a blowout that cannot be capped by conventional means), could see oil flowing unchecked into the North Atlantic for 30 days.
Among the additional conditions imposed by the minister is that BP submit a spill response plan and well control strategies and measures to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board at least 90 days before the commencement of drilling.