The proposed Hebron oil project on the Hebron oilfield 350 kilometres east of St. John’s is estimated to hold up to 700 million barrels of oil. It could generate $20 billion for the province over 30 years, according to the Hebron Public Review Commission, which released its final report on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. The report points out that the project should proceed but that there are significant gaps in the application that ought to be addressed.
The press conference with Commissioner Miller Ayre followed his official submission of the final report of the Hebron Public Review Commission, to the chair of the C-NLOPB and the federal and provincial ministers of natural resources. The 328-page document contains 64 recommendations for improvements to the development application as currently submitted by ExxonMobil prior to its receiving a go-ahead as the proponent for this massive project.
The Commissioner commented that the Hebron Project, at the regulatory approval stage, is the largest in the province’s history. It will have immediate and substantial impact on the local economy over the next five to six years as the project moves through the construction to installation phases. He said ExxonMobil, the project’s operator, is an industry leader with proven competence and an established local commitment. “This is a good project. It is a good operator. There are lots of wrinkles, but it will go ahead,” he said, “and the CNLOPB or whoever is regulating it will get to a level of information that is better than it is now.”
Ayre pointed out, however, that “certain aspects of the development application are incomplete, withheld or not supported.” The Commission has recommended in the report that “significant improvements” be made to the development application, including the benefits plan, the socio-economic impact statement and safety analysis and planning. He also said that not all of these recommendations need be completed prior to the CNLOBP’s final decision. And in the press release that accompanied the release of the report the Commission singled out its recommendation that Pool 3 not be approved with this application, but instead become the subject of its own application.
Ayre indicated that there is a strong emphasis in the report on the need to see that work on the project be done in Newfoundland and Labrador where the capacity either exists or will be fostered by the proponent as part of its responsibility under the development agreement. Other areas that concern labour in the report included safety, especially helicopter safety, which Ayre said, “should remain a top priority.”
To assist the reader in gleaning as much information as possible from the 328 page report, it includes an overall executive summary. In addition each chapter includes a brief summary of contents followed by a brief description of the regulatory context and a review of Hebron development application documents pertaining to the content of that chapter. Each key issue is discussed and recommendations are made throughout the narrative in each chapter. At the end of the report is a complete list of all 64 recommendations. 328 pages
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