View Full Version : Nunavut Community Opposes Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration

03-07-2014, 07:55 PM
Clyde River Reaffirms Opposition to Seismic Survey (http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/warrenbernauer/22038)
by Warren Bernauer

he Inuit community of Clyde River has restated its opposition to a proposal by the oil industry to conduct offshore seismic surveys near the community’s hunting grounds. The proposal is currently being assessed by the National Energy Board (NEB), and Nunavut communities are waiting for the board to finish analyzing submissions and make a decision on the file. Residents of several communities on Baffin Island have repeatedly opposed this proposal since it was first brought forward in 2011. Nunavut’s Inuit organizations have recommended the proposal not be approved until a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is conducted on the broader question of oil and gas development in the area. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has initiated an SEA, and preliminary meetings were held in Baffin communities in February 2014. However, the NEB has indicated that the SEA process will not alter its assessment of the proposed seismic survey. The consortium proposing the survey has begun advertising job openings for the proposed project in local media, with an expected start date of August 2014.

On February 25, 2014, the Hamlet Council and Hunters and Trappers Organization of Clyde River passed a joint motion, reaffirming their opposition to offshore oil and gas exploration and development, including seismic surveys. The motion stated that, as elected representatives of the community, both organizations have a “responsibility to protect the environment and safeguard our traditional way of life from rampant or unwanted development.” The motion goes on to state that at recent consultation meetings in the community “it was clearly, unequivocally and adamantly articulated…that our community is FIRMLY against any such oil and gas activity in our area and throughout Nunavut.” The resolution concludes that “both the Municipal Government and the Hunters and Trappers Organization of Clyde River speak in one voice, clearly opposing the proposed oil and gas seismic activity.”

This resolution follows a previous joint motion and letter by the Clyde River Hamlet and HTO in May of 2013, also opposing seismic surveys in the area. The joint letter made clear that the community was not against development or mineral extraction in general. “Like all Nunavut communities, we need and support economic and other opportunities that contribute towards enhanced levels of employment for our people”. However, it also made clear that the Inuit of Clyde River wish to balance economic development and wage labour opportunities with maintaining subsistence hunting. “Regardless of any economic development, we will need to protect and sustain our 4000 year plus old culture of subsistence harvesting in this region.” The letter argued that proposed oil and gas activity was not consistent with this balance. “The proposed seismic testing and the resulting oil and gas development it would bring are not balanced development. It is utterly against the global movement to decrease global warming and to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels”. It concluded by stating that the Hamlet and HTO are “firmly opposed to seismic testing in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait”.

The proposal

The current proposal was submitted by a consortium of three companies – TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA, Petroleum GeoServices and Multi Klient Invest AS (“the consortium”). Officially titled the “2011 Northeastern Canada 2D Marine Seismic Survey”, the proposal is to conduct seismic surveys in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. The project would take place seasonally over five years, and is intended to identify potential oil deposits below the ocean floor.

This work would involve a ship using air guns to blast loud bursts of sound under the water. Sensors would then detect and record the way sound bounces off the ocean floor, providing information about underwater geology. The data collected would then be sold by the consortium, to the oil industry, which would use it to locate potential oil and gas deposits to begin exploratory drilling.

The proposal overlaps with important habitat and migration routes for various species of marine mammal Inuit harvest for subsistence. The offshore fishing grounds for Nunavut’s commercial fishery also overlap with the proposed survey lines. This has led to serious concerns that the loud noise emitted during surveys may alter the migration routes or physically damage the hearing of marine mammals. It has likewise caused concern that the surveys may cause fish to disperse, causing reduced catches for the local commercial fishery.

The consortium submitted an environmental impact statement in April of 2011. Nexus Coastal Resource Management, a consulting firm established by professionals from Dalhousie University, was hired by the consortium to engage with communities. Following a long period of information requests, the NEB held hearings in four Baffin Island communities in April and May of 2013. Final comments and the consortium’s responses were submitted in early November of 2013. The NEB is in the process of assessing the submissions in order to reject or approve the proposal.

It is important to stress that this is NOT the proposal for seismic surveys in Lancaster Sound which Inuit communities, with the support of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and environmental organizations, successfully opposed. The current seismic proposal would not cover Lancaster Sound.

The proposal for Lancaster Sound received significant attention from the national media. However, aside from local sources, there has been no media attention to the controversy surrounding the current proposal. Thus far, there has been no official involvement from environmental or other political organizations, aside from the work of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the organization which represents Inuit from the Baffin region under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Click here to read the rest of the article (http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/warrenbernauer/22038).
A Media Co-op (www.mediacoop.ca) article

- What are your thoughts concerning the survey and the economic developments that may follow?