Concerns over oil drilling brought to P.E.I. Legislature

Teresa Wright
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Logo of Save Our Seas and Shores, a coalition formed to address offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

A group of concerned citizens calling on the Prince Edward Island government to declare a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence brought their concerns to the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday.

Representatives from Save Our Seas and Shores brought forward a petition with more than 1,200 signatures, asking the P.E.I. government to take the lead in opposing an offshore oil prospect being explored by Corridor Resources Inc.

The petition was tabled in the P.E.I. legislature Tuesday.

“We’re very concerned about the effects on the Gulf of St. Lawrence if seismic testing and drilling for oil goes ahead,” said Ellie Reddin.

“People remember in 2010 the big oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, well, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a lot smaller and the effects could be devastating for tourism and our fisheries industries as well as for people with coastal properties.”

Corridor Resources has applied to the CanadaNewfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to drill a well east of Prince Edward Island.

The area known as the ‘Old Harry’ prospect in the Laurentian Channel in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the largest undrilled prospects in Eastern Canada and is estimated to hold up to two billion barrels of recoverable oil or up to five trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

If regulatory approval is obtained, the proposed well should be drilled by the end of 2014, according to the company’s website.

The drilling project has garnered much concern and criticism by individuals and groups across Atlantic Canada and the Iles de la Madeleine who are worried about the devastating effects a possible spill or blowout.

Grade 8 students Lilly Hickox and Caroline Galloway decided to turn their concern into action.

They saw volunteers with Save our Seas and Shores at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market and were inspired to help spread the group’s message and recruit support.

They took brochures and signs to their school and encouraged fellow students and teachers to sign their name to the petition.

The two students gathered almost half the total number of signatures on the petition.

“We think it’s important to preserve the environment, and we don’t want an oil spill because it could kill marine life and there are endangered species too that could be at risk,” Galloway said.

“Hopefully, our work will result in positive results so that they will stop the plans for oil drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” Hickox said.

Premier Robert Ghiz said he hopes the environmental reviews done by the federal offshore petroleum board overseeing this project will be diligent in ensuring it will not go ahead if it poses a risk to the waters off P.E.I.

“It’s something that we’ll watch, but we trust the systems that are in place now to ensure that the regulations and environmental procedures are being followed,” Ghiz said.

Organizations: Corridor Resources Inc., CanadaNewfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Laurentian Channel

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Gulf of Mexico, Eastern Canada Atlantic Canada Iles de la Madeleine

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Recent comments

  • Geoffrey May
    May 02, 2013 - 17:16

    Since we know that burning more than one third of known reserves of fossil fuels will launch runaway greenhouse effect , and that surviving this century depends on radical cut's in carbon emissions no later than 2016, it is obvious that oil exploration anywhere cannot produce any benefit, only produce risk pointlessly .

    May 01, 2013 - 21:38

    Let them drill for what ever they want too, workers go out west for work and bring home Alberta $ to PEI you never know PEI could be a have Province instead of having its hand out to the rest of Canada

  • Colin Jeffrey
    May 01, 2013 - 20:34

    As a member of Save Our Seas and Shores, I would like to point out an error in this article. The article states that middle school students Lilly Hickox and Caroline Galloway collected "more than half the signatures" in our petition. This is incorrect. The students collected approximately 350 signatures out of 1200. In actual fact, the signatures on our petition reflect a broad range of island residents.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    May 01, 2013 - 17:08

    This is what Ghizzy says. Premier Robert Ghiz said he hopes the environmental reviews done by the federal offshore petroleum board overseeing this project will be diligent in ensuring it will not go ahead if it poses a risk to the waters off P.E.I. “It’s something that we’ll watch, but we trust the systems that are in place now to ensure that the regulations and environmental procedures are being followed,” Ghiz said. So now Ghizzy is hopeful and trusting of the same federal government that has the goods on him, the same federal government that keep slapping US ISLANDERS in the face. Well I do not trust either governments to make a (RIGHTEOUS) right decision and I certainly hold no hope that the "federal offshore petroleum board overseeing this project" will make a right decision. They call it the FEDREAL OFFSHORE PETROLEUM BOARD not the Maritime Provinces Environmental Protection Board. Whose favor do you think they will decide on?

  • don
    May 01, 2013 - 11:19

    the law should be that ALL shareholder in oil companies and electric companies be known to the public. i wonder how many shares does the government members have in both ?

  • sean
    May 01, 2013 - 09:28

    Jr.. high children signing a petition this is very wrong!!!! most of these kids would feel obligated to sign something cause there friend did it or there teacher pressured them into doing so not realizing exactly what it is that they put their name onto. In my opinion would love to see them bring the rig offshore and the potential of creating more jobs and take some of these people who ride and abuse EI/welfare off of these programs when the jobs are there.

    • Townie
      May 01, 2013 - 10:30

      You should give these kids more credit. I know kids that age won't do that if they don't want to. Signing petitions isn't a 'Cool' thing to do or something that makes you cool so pressure wouldn't be that big of a factor.

  • donna
    May 01, 2013 - 09:27

    I do not agree on the drilling...Vick fisherman are not greedy that is there bread and butter.Fishermen pay into EI just like the rest of us do and they darn well deserve it.Without fishermen you wouldnt have fish on your plate.

  • Jill Macdonald
    May 01, 2013 - 08:54

    Message to the job and economy deniers in this foolish little petition - Drilling = Jobs

  • mary gorman
    May 01, 2013 - 08:52

    Vick, If offshore rigs create so many jobs, why is half of NL in Alberta when NL has had offshore rigs in their open waters in the Atlantic since the '90's? And according to NL's auditor general, that province's economy is currently in a mess because of placing all their eggs into one oil and gas basket. Whereas there are over 20,000 renewable fishery jobs in the southern Gulf alone (PEI, NB, NS). If it bothers you that fishermen collect EI, I might remind you - so do oil workers. But at least EI goes directly back into our coastal economies. What about the multi billion dollars in subsidies the Cdn taxpayers are giving to the oil industry every year? Finally, please consider that the Gulf of St. Lawrence has the largest lobster production in the world but scientists have little knowledge of where the spawn is outside of the commercial fishing seasons. Since the oil industry acknowledges that seismic testing kills spawn, how do you mitigate this?Is it worth the risk?

  • Appalled
    May 01, 2013 - 08:33

    We KNOW offshore oil is dangerous and harmful to the environment, from the climate change the product is causing, to the spills that are INEVITABLE. Mr. Ghiz, there IS going to be an oil spill, period, if this project proceeds. This ecosystem, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is too precious to gamble with for a damaging, outdated industry. You and your political friends will be long gone and working as paid consultants for the oil &gas companies when a spill happens, but it will happen. The only way to ensure it does not, is to challenge--and just say NO--to the oil and gas companies and federal government who are leading us down this path of mutually assured destruction. God bless Save Our Seas and Shores. These people are the only ones with the public interest firmly in their sights. Why do politicians insist on shoving fossil fuel projects down our throats?

  • mary Gorman
    May 01, 2013 - 08:17

    Congratulations to everyone and especially to Lilly and Caroline for their exceptional leadership on this worthy cause!! It is concern for Lilly and Caroline's generation that drives us to take efforts to protect our precious marine ecosystems for future generations - like the endangered blue whale that migrate directly through where Corridoe wants to put the rig. These blue whale feed off the highest concentration of krill in the North Atlantic that live in the Laurentian Channel and support the food chain for the entire Gulf. A word of caution to Premier Ghiz. Mr. Premier, NO, the proper marine protections are not in place. The federal government has abandoned and downloaded marine protection to unelected provincial Boards in conflicts of interest. Our fishery and tourism industries, property values, recreational pleasures, breeding areas, endangered species and the food chains that support these species are ALL up for grabs under Canada's current offshore regulatory structure. In PEI's case, your offshore jurisdiction is so limited, you could not have rigs in your waters without destroying your fishery and tourism industry. I can see PEI from my shore in Nova Scotia and half of that water supposedly belongs to NS. Think about it. Premier Ghiz, Canadians are desperate for REAL leadership in this country - that puts Canadians first. Please be a real leader and protect PEI's renewable industries and sacred beauty for future generations.

  • We need local oil
    May 01, 2013 - 07:35

    High oil prices of foreign oil that Atlantic Canada purchases and lack of jobs are two very good reasons to develop this project. If islanders have no concern for high pesticide use poisoning our land and water then why cry about a slim maybe chance of an oil spill.

    • concered
      May 01, 2013 - 09:51

      Who says Islanders have no concern for high pesticide use??? And of course, offshore drilling is safe - look at the Gulf of Mexico!! And many more accidents too numerous to mention.

  • Andrew Lush
    May 01, 2013 - 07:24

    We shouldn't trust "the systems that are in place now" or the current environmental regulations. The system is deeply flawed, to the point of being a 'rubber stamp' exercise, and the environmental regulations have been decimated in order to favour oil and gas development.

  • don
    May 01, 2013 - 06:51

    get ready for drilling islanders as dizzy will not stop it or even try as these are big money guys and you know how well dizzy looks after them. plus do think he cares as once he steps down as leader and has his pension he will be moving off island so when the oil kills the shores on PEI. he will not worry.

  • vick
    May 01, 2013 - 05:31

    This is wrong having kids sign something they have no ideal what their signing! Fishermen greedy fishermen dont own those waters, just look at the employment the offshore rig nfld has created and the jobs out west oil has created! It would be great to see guys only have to go offshore for work instead of Ft MAC! Another thing that pipe line bring it to NB somemore work! But no the fishermen want the waters so they can fish for 8 weeks and we can pay them maxium EI for the remander of the yr! DRILL DRILL DRILL and do more DRILLING! JOBS JOBS JOBS!