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Bay du Nord support is all about ‘the greener barrel,’ says Bent

By Craig Westcott/March 24, 2022

The proposed Bay du Nord deep water oil play may be controversial in some quarters, but not inside the confines of the CBS council chamber.

The Town passed a resolution in full support of the project last week as the federal cabinet wrestles with whether to grant environmental approval.

For some of the councillors, support for the project verged on the personal.

Mayor Darrin Bent made the resolution to support the play.

Bent explained that whereas council has been focused on taking advantage of its maritime resources and facilities in Conception Bay to capitalize on opportunities in the offshore oil industry, the Town is in full support of the project.

Bent said council has a mandate to grow its commercial tax base to alleviate financial pressures on its residents and to improve services for them. 

“Council is very cognizant of environmental sustainability and is encouraged that Bay du Nord has the potential to produce the lowest carbon barrels of oil in Canada,” Bent said. “The Bay du Nord project will create jobs for our residents, increase supply opportunities for our businesses and will positively impact the economy of our province.”

Councillor-at-large Rex Hillier agreed.

“Since I was born in the now resettled little community of Bay du Nord, I thought I’d take a moment to express my thoughts on it,” Hillier said. “This is a big project and if it goes ahead somebody is going to benefit in a big way and we’d like to be in on it as a town.”

Hillier pointed to the town’s sheltered bay and the industrial harbour In Long Pond as being able to support the oil industry. The project will spur population growth and commercial income, he argued.

“One of the things when we campaigned (in the fall election) was the issue of trying to take the tax burden off our residents,” Hillier said. “Provincially, it’s a big deal as well. We all know the degree to which our provincial budget is tied to oil and gas, and this would have a huge impact provincially as the world transitions away from carbon-based energy. And at the national level, with the goings on in Ukraine, and in Europe in general, we’ve seen the impact on fuel prices and gas prices and we need to develop as a country our own oil.”

Councillor-at-large Paul Connors said he too was “very pleased” with the resolution.

“There are so many residents in our town who are directly or indirectly involved in the oil and gas industry,” Connors said. “There are also opportunities for our town to benefit from this great project. There are economic opportunities to grow our commercial tax base. I would say many of our residents do not even realize we have one of the largest suppliers to the offshore industry in Atlantic Canada up at the end of Fowlers Road, the Blue water Group, in the industrial park up there. So, we already have some of that here in our community and I’m looking forward to more.”

Councillor-at-large Josh Barrett acknowledged he has been hearing from people who want to know where he stands given that he ran on a platform of addressing climate change.

“I truly believe that climate change is one of the biggest issues, if not the biggest issue, in our town,” Barrett said. “And since being elected we’ve already made motion after motion to address these impacts, such as coastal erosion at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, we’ve had unprecedented flooding in January and February this year, we’re considering a study on landslides in Manuels River given the potential implications of that, and later this evening councillor (Shelley) Moores will be providing a motion to do repairs on the CBS Rec Complex roof because of extreme wind and weather.”

Barrett said the Town must also try to mitigate future climate change in addition to dealing with what it impacts now.

“This council is committed to putting in work for a community centre, we’ve seen a lot of growth in residential development, we’re getting new roads – all of that takes energy,” Barrett said. “So, without question we need to all do our part to decarbonize our energy process. But that is a global undertaking that will take years to do… In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have appropriate regulatory mechanisms that allow for the production of ethical and low carbon oil compared to other jurisdictions… So given all this, I just want to paint a picture about why I believe Bay du Nord has the potential for us to transition to a cleaner energy future here in the province.”

Mayor Bent concluded the buzz of the oil industry these days is “the greener barrel.” And Newfoundland’s Orphan Basin will produce a greener barrel of oil, he argued.

“Nobody believes that oil is going to disappear as a commodity anytime soon,” Bent said. “There are so many applications that it’s used for, and I think it’s important that we support the greener barrel.”

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