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ExxonMobil to pursue massive oil project offshore of Newfoundland

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ExxonMobil - along with Chevron, Suncor, Statoil and Nalcor - have announced that they will begin extracting more than 700 million barrels of oil from the Hebron oilfield 95 metres (300 feet) beneath the Atlantic Ocean (at a rate of 150,000 barrels of oil per day) beginning before the end of 2017. Hebron is in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin, about 350 kilometres (200 miles) southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Both the federal and provincial governments approved this project last May, despite the ‘notoriously hostile’ conditions of the North Atlantic. And while one news article notes that drilling has not been allowed on the Atlantic coast of the US for decades, all of today’s mainstream news articles focus on the expected royalties for Newfoundland ($23 billion over the next 30 years) and the expected jobs (peaking at 3,500 during the construction phase), rather than any of the environmental/ climate change impacts of a project of this magnitude. Nor is there any reference in the coverage to where this oil will be sold. Given much of the oil consumed in Atlantic Canada and Quebec is imported by tankers on the East Coast, the argument has been made by some corporate interests (including TransCanada Corp) that a west-to-east pipeline is needed to carry tar sands bitumen to the Atlantic provinces (and then presumably also from there for export to the more-profitable markets of the United States, Europe, China and India). For Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew’s blog from this past July on the outcomes of the ExxonMobil-Murphy Oil NAFTA challenge against Newfoundland and Labrador, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16023.

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