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Oil company continues to push fracking in Newfoundland, by Gros Morne National Park

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Gros Morne National Park. Photo: Kelly-Anne/flickr

Davidson Kelly is the chairman of Shoal Point Energy, the company that has the exploration rights for large part of Newfoundland's west coast. In a deal with Black Spruce Exploration, they are seeking to frack for oil and gas in Sally's Cove and other areas, just a few kilometres from the boundaries of Gros Morne National Park.

As noted on the Shoal Point Energy website, "Mr. Kelly has spent thirty years in the petroleum business, principally in the areas of corporate management, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and international business development. He was a member of the executive committee of BHP Petroleum from 1995 to 2000, and previously spent twenty years with LASMO plc, a UK independent oil company as director, corporate development. From 2001 to 2003 he was CEO of Mena Energy Limited, a company established to invest in Middle Eastern oil and gas projects."

This week, CBC reports, "The chairman of the company behind controversial fracking plans on Newfoundland's west coast was a player in a kickback scandal involving Australian wheat shipments to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In 2006, the Australian judge who presided over a royal commission into that country's role in the United Nations oil-for-food affair recommended that Norman Davidson Kelly be investigated by police. …'On the evidence before me, Mr. Davidson Kelly is a thoroughly disreputable man with no commercial morality', Commissioner Terence Cole wrote in his report, which was tabled in the Australian parliament. …No charges were ever filed."

The article adds, "The plans (to frack in Newfoundland) have been controversial, with hundreds turning out at public meetings to question proponents. And last month, Shoal Point Energy raised eyebrows when it issued a news release saying it had the green light from the local offshore regulator to start drilling a new well. That was news to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Shoal Point Energy had to issue a retraction later the same day acknowledging the error. No approval has yet been granted. …The fracking plans have also attracted the attention of UNESCO. The United Nations agency says the drilling may threaten Gros Morne National Park's status as a world heritage site."

In late May, the Council of Canadians expressed solidarity with communities who are fighting proposals to frack in Newfoundland. Shoal Point/ Black Spruce plan to explore for oil and gas by drilling down on land and then horizontally under the Bay of St. Lawrence in the Port au Port / St. George's Bay area, Sally's Cove / Rocky Harbour and several other communities along the west coast of Newfoundland. Council of Canadians St. John's chapter activist Ken Kavanagh has stated, "We are alarmed that these companies have plans to frack within kilometres of Gros Morne National Park. It's not just about Gros Morne, though. Communities all along the west coast are getting informed and organizing to stop the proposed fracking projects from moving forward." The Council of Canadians is calling for a ban on fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador, and is working in solidarity with several community groups on the west coast of Newfoundland.

Photo: Kelly-Anne/flickr

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