Federal government to approve controversial Bay du Nord oil project

With water depths of approximately 1,200 meters, Equinor’s Baie du Nord project will utilize a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, better known as an FPSO, like the one shown here in this illustration. Equinor officials say a final investment decision is expected within two years, with first oil before the end of this decade. (Equinor)

The federal government will formally approve the Bay du Nord offshore oil megaproject after markets close at 4 p.m. ET, CBC News has learned from multiple sources who are not authorized to speak publicly.

CTV was the first to report the news.

Bay du Nord has been criticized by environmental activists and climate scientists, who say it runs counter to the federal government’s climate goals.

The project has also caused disagreements within Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet. In February, Radio-Canada reported that cabinet members from Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia opposed its approval.

Norwegian oil company Equinor and its partners plan to develop the Flemish Pass deepwater oilfield, about 500 kilometers east of St. John’s.

Their plan is to use a huge floating production, storage and offloading vessel, commonly known as an FPSO, capable of producing up to 200,000 barrels per day.

The project will be the fifth producing offshore oilfield in Newfoundland and Labrador and will begin production as early as 2028.

Bay du Nord – seen as an economic lifeline for Newfoundland and Labrador, whose economy depends on oil royalties and offshore labor – has taken years to prepare.

Equinor postponed the project to 2020 after oil prices plummeted in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but announced it was moving forward into 2021. The company says the project will produce around 300 million barrels of oil and generate $3.5 billion in government revenue. , and create thousands of jobs.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guibeault’s decision on the Bay du Nord lawsuit was originally scheduled for December, but was postponed until March 6.

Guibeault also missed that deadline, and the federal government said it needed more time to assess whether the project is likely to cause “significant adverse environmental effects.”

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