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 NS22-1: WRITTEN COMMENTS SUMMARY
Call for Bids NS22-1
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) issued Call for Bids NS22-1, which includes eight nominated parcels, on September 29, 2022.
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 NS22-1 was provided from September 29, 2022 to November 28, 2022. This opportunity was communicated to:
- Indigenous groups in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador;
- The CNSOPB Fisheries Advisory Committee;
- Mayors and Wardens of Nova Scotia Municipalities; and
- The CNSOPB’s Subscribe List.
We also publicly shared a notice of the opportunity to provide written comments on our website, Linkedin, and Twitter.
Summary of Comments Submitted
There was a total of 7 unique submissions received, of these:
- 3 from Nova Scotia; and
- 4 from other areas of Canada outside of Nova Scotia.
Link to written comments submitted by the public and stakeholder groups on Call for Bids NS22-1.
Link to written comments submitted by Indigenous groups on Call for Bids NS22-1.
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
Some of the comments submitted expressed a policy position that offshore oil and gas activity puts our climate and marine ecosystems at risk, is inconsistent with national and international climate goals and indicated that no further oil and exploration should take place offshore Nova Scotia. Some 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.
Consultation with 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.
Concerns expressed about the negative impact of oil and gas exploration activities on the marine environment, specifically the proximity of the parcels to the Sable Island National Park Reserve, Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area (Haddock Box), Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge and the Gully Marine Protected Area.
Many comments expressed concerns about the risks to the marine ecosystem from oil and gas exploration and development activities such as seismic surveying and drilling as well as accidental events such as spills. Some comments received were specifically concerned with the impacts to areas with a significant presence of corals and sponges and other benthic species and impacts on the large marine mammals that are known to occur or migrate through the region.
Transition to Renewable Energy Projects
Several comments indicated that oil and gas development is inconsistent with international efforts to limit the impacts of climate change and more focus should be placed on renewable and clean energy projects.
Additional comments received include:
Oil and gas development in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area can progress Canada’s energy climate initiatives and provide energy security to Europe and other parts of the world.
Some comments received discussed the opportunity to supply European energy systems with natural gas in the short term to assist them in transitioning from current supply structures. The comments also indicated Nova Scotia has an opportunity to be a hydrogen hub and develop lower cost blue hydrogen before transitioning to green hydrogen production.
Opportunity to use the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) for net-negative hydrocarbons and net-negative hydrogen.
A few of the comments discussed the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area as having high potential for carbon capture and storage because of the location, climate and geological formations that exist offshore. Comments also expressed that Nova Scotia was well positioned to develop natural gas and oil responsibly while continuing to push towards lower carbon gas, hydrogen and offshore wind developments.
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 is 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 administer and enforce the Accord Acts legislation and regulations, as put in place by the governments.
It is also important to note that should an EL be issued, it does not permit an operator to 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 surveying, 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 require 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 – No petroleum exploration activities can occur on or within one nautical mile (or 1.85 kilometers) of the Sable Island National Park Reserve. We have also not allowed petroleum activities in the Gully area since 1998, when the Gully was first identified as a special area.
The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) completed before Call for Bids NS22-1 was announced includes the recommendation that enhanced mitigation measures may be required to meet the necessary conservation objectives for special areas such as Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area (Haddock Box). Any project-specific Environmental Assessment (EA per CNSOPB requirements) or Impact Assessment (IA per Impact Assessment Act requirements) for projects with potential effects on special areas would include discussions with the appropriate federal departments.
Project Specific Environmental Assessments – A project-specific EA or IA (depending on the nature of the activity) must be undertaken as part of any application submitted by an operator to conduct activity in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area, with specific consideration for proposed activity within special areas.
A project-specific EA or IA further evaluates potential adverse environmental effects associated with a proposed project, identifies specific mitigation measures that would need to be implemented to mitigate adverse environmental effects, and predicts whether there will be significant adverse environmental effects after mitigation measures are implemented.
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 NS22-1 website for the public to view as well as for potential bidders to review prior to bidding on a parcel.
Call for Bids NS22-1 is still open. Bids must be received by September 19, 2023 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, 2024.