Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has approved a new oil project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, which Ottawa says will be subjected to some of the strongest-ever environmental requirements.
Guilbeault’s decision released on April 6 by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, says that the Equinor’s Bay du Nord project can proceed as long as it achieves net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Until 2050, the Norwegian energy company is also legally required to consider and incorporate the “best available” options to reduce emissions.
“I have determined that the designated project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” said Guilbeault in his 22−page decision statement.
The decision comes after the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, a federal body accountable to Guilbeault’s ministry, concluded that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment, after four years of study, the minister added.
The Bay du Nord project consists of several oil discoveries in the Flemish pass basin, some 500 kilometres northeast of St. John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Equinor has proposed developing the Bay du Nord field by installing and operating a floating offshore oil and gas production facility. The project is estimated to operate for about 30 years, producing around 300 million barrels of oil over its lifetime.
Equinor estimates greenhouse gas emissions from production are expected to be as low as eight kilograms per barrel, compared to the average emissions by oilsands at 80 kilograms per barrel, and the overall Canadian average at 40 kilograms per barrel.
Equinor spokesman Alex Collins said the Bay du Nord project “has the potential to produce the lowest−carbon oil in the country.”
“Equinor is pleased with the strong support that the Bay du Nord project has received from stakeholders across the province and Canada,” she told The Canadian Press.
According to Equinor’s estimates, the project will generate about $3.5 billion in revenue for the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Premier Andrew Furey said the importance of the Bay du Nord project to the province cannot be overstated.
“It will be among the lowest carbon per barrel oil in the world, meeting the current global demand at this important time of transition,” he said on Twitter on April 6.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report