As the regulator of the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area, we recognize that in carrying out our regulatory processes, it is important to engage with Indigenous communities and the public.
CALL FOR BIDS NS21-1: WRITTEN COMMENTS SUMMARY
Call for Bids NS21-1
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) issued Call for Bids NS21-1, which includes two nominated parcels, on May 3, 2021.
The CNSOPB administers the Call for Bids process on behalf of the federal and provincial governments for the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area. This includes reviewing nominations, selecting Call for Bids parcels, receiving and reviewing bids, and awarding Exploration Licences (ELs). The issuance of a Call for Bids and the award of ELs are both subject to a federal and provincial Ministerial review and approval process as set out in legislation.
The annual Call for Bids process gives oil and gas companies the opportunity to bid on parcels of Crown land, and, if successful, be awarded an EL. EL holders may apply to the CNSOPB to explore for oil and gas, but no activity can take place without authorization.
As the regulator of the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area, we recognize that in carrying out our regulatory processes, it is important to engage with Indigenous groups and the public.
An opportunity to submit written comments specific to the areas included in Call for Bids NS21-1 was provided from May 3, 2021 to July 5, 2021. This opportunity was communicated to:
Indigenous groups in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador;
The CNSOPB Fisheries Advisory Committee; and
Mayors and Wardens of Nova Scotia Municipalities.
We also shared a notice of the opportunity on our website and twitter.
Summary of Comments Submitted
There was a total of 41 submissions received, of these:
There were 39 unique submissions received from 37 individuals
29 from Nova Scotia;
5 from the Atlantic region other than Nova Scotia;
3 from Canada other than the Atlantic region; and
2 from unknown locations.
* Link to written comments for Call for Bids NS21-1.
What We Heard
The main issues and concerns raised:
Calling for an end to oil and gas activity in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area due to climate change concerns
The majority of the comments submitted expressed a policy position that offshore oil and gas activity is putting our communities, our marine ecosystems and our climate at unacceptable risk; and indicated that no further oil and exploration should take place offshore Nova Scotia. A number of the comments noted a report by the International Energy Agency “Net Zero by 2050”, indicating that no new oil and gas fields should be brought on production due to concerns over climate change.
Concerns expressed regarding the CNSOPB’s existence and mandate
Specific comments indicated the CNSOPB should no longer exist and suggested the Board is only concerned with the interests of the petroleum industry. Some comments suggested the CNSOPB’s mandate should be changed to focus on renewable energy.
Concerns expressed by Indigenous communities
There were comments submitted regarding the potential impacts on Mi’kmaq Rights, including Indigenous fisheries, such as Aboriginal commercial fisheries and Aboriginal communal commercial fisheries. A concern was expressed regarding potential impacts to the commercial acquisition/partnership of some Mi’kmaw communities on the purchase of Clearwater Seafoods and future access to offshore lobster and other fisheries.
Concerns expressed about the negative impact of oil and gas exploration activities on the marine environment
Many comments expressed concerns about the risks to the marine ecosystem from exploration activities such as seismic surveying and drilling. Some comments cited examples of incidents locally and in other parts of the world.
Transition to Renewable Energy Projects
Several comments indicated that oil and gas is becoming obsolete and more focus should be placed on renewable and clean energy projects, and on finding workers jobs as part of a green recovery.
We would like to thank everyone who submitted comments to help us better understand perspectives and concerns as this assists us in making informed decisions.
It’s important to understand that the existence and mandate of the CNSOPB and whether or not oil and gas activity should be permitted in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area is a matter of government policy, and as such is beyond the authority of the CNSOPB. The CNSOPB’s role is to enforce the Accord Acts legislation and regulations, as put in place by the governments.
It’s also important to note that should an EL be issued, it does not mean that an operator may begin work offshore. An EL gives the licence holder the right to make application to the CNSOPB to drill on their EL. No exploration activity (e.g. seismic, drilling) can take place without an authorization being granted by the CNSOPB for that specific activity.
Should we issue an EL and receive an application for activity, there are many things that we look at before an activity authorization is granted:
Appropriate applications and documentation - An operator must demonstrate to the CNSOPB that any proposed activity would be conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Our staff conducts a thorough review of the information submitted as part of activity authorization applications for compliance with legislation and regulations.
Special Areas - The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) completed before Call for Bids 21-1 was announced includes the recommendation that enhanced mitigation measures may be required to meet the necessary conservation objectives for special areas such as Georges Canyon and Corsair Canyon Coral Conservation Area, Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area and Roseway Basin. The Fundian Channel – Browns Bank Area of Interest (AOI) is also considered in the SEA. This AOI will become a marine protected area (MPA), the waters of which no oil and gas activity will be permitted within. Any project-specific EA on special areas would include discussions with the appropriate federal departments.
Impact/Environmental Assessment - Before any activity can be authorized to proceed in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area it is subject to any applicable assessment requirements under the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA) and/or the Accord Acts. These assessments consider and evaluate the potential environmental effects that may be associated with a proposed project, identify mitigation measures to avoid or reduce those effects, and determine whether follow-up activities are required. They include consideration of a broad range of environmental, health, social and economic issues and effects, including potential effects on and within special areas. Under the IAA the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change may also conduct a regional assessment of existing or future physical activities in a region. The CNSOPB has held some preliminary discussions with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada regarding a potential future regional assessment offshore Nova Scotia.
The Board of the CNSOPB will review the comments received prior to considering the issuance of an EL(s) in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area. All comments received are posted on the Call for Bids NS21-1 website for the public to view as well as for potential bidders to review prior to bidding on a parcel. These comments can be found below.
Call for Bids NS21-1 is still open. Bids must be received by November 3, 2021 before 4:00 p.m. ADT. Successful bidder(s) may be awarded an EL(s), subject to the federal and provincial Ministerial review and approval process set out in legislation.
If EL(s) are issued for these parcels, the effective date will be January 15, 2022.