Newfoundland Releases SEA Report in Connection with Upcoming Bid Round

The Board has concluded the Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment (the SEA Report) which assessed an area containing Parcels 4, 5, 6, and 7 offered in the Call for Bids NL05-1. The Board's advisory agencies, fisheries interests and public stakeholders have provided comments, and the Board has concluded that exploration drilling and seismic survey activities generally may occur in the area, depending on the nature and timing of these activities, and project specific mitigation and monitoring plans may be required to reduce potential impacts on the receiving environment.

More specifically, the SEA Report identifies a number of sensitive fish habitats in the study area. Of particular importance are the Cape St. George Spawning Area off the Port au Port Peninsula, herring spawning areas and a number of lobster spawning/nursery areas. The North Head lobster nursery area in Parcel 6 and the Trout River Bay lobster nursery area in Parcel 7 are closed to harvesting as a conservation measure. The Cape St. George Spawning Area is a DFO regulated management area where all groundfish harvesting is prohibited from April 1 to June 23 each year. Call for Bids Parcels 4 and 5, and EL 1071 are partially within this area and ELs 1069 and 1070 are adjacent to it. In addition, there is a herring spawning area in EL 1072 (St. George's Bay) and in the northern portion of the study area (St. John Bay) and lobster spawning areas along the coast in portions of ELs 1069 and 1070. In relation to these sensitive fish habitats, the SEA Report concludes:

The Western Newfoundland and Labrador Strategic Environmental Assessment Report concludes that petroleum exploration activity generally can proceed in the Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area with the application of standard mitigation measures currently applied to offshore exploratory activities elsewhere in the NL offshore. However, the SEA Report identifies sensitive fish habitat in the Study Area. The implementation of non-standard mitigations or restrictions on activities would likely be required in the following areas:

  • The Cape St. George Spawning Area off the Port au Port Peninsula – within or adjacent to Parcels 4 and 5 and EL 1071
  • The North Head Lobster Nursery Area – within the nearshore area of Parcel 6
  • The Trout River Lobster Nursery Area – within the nearshore area of Parcel 7
  • The St. George's Bay Spring Herring Spawning area – within EL 1072
  • The outer Port au Port Bay - Shag Island lobster spawning area – within the nearshore area of ELs 1069 and 1070
  • The St. John Bay fall herring spawning area – within or adjacent to the northern portion of the Study Area.

A project-specific environmental assessment will determine the nature and extent of these restrictions or non-standard mitigations for each activity proposed in each area. If it is determined during an assessment process that baseline information is required in order to assess impact predictions, the operator may then be required to undertake data collection. It is likely that during the early exploration phase such data collection can be conducted opportunistically as part of ongoing industry activity. In the event that petroleum resources with development potential are discovered, the C-NLOPB will consult with the appropriate operator, government agencies and interested parties in the public to determine the specifics of data collection effort that would be required to support a future development application.