British Columbia Renews Push for Offshore Exploration

Hoping to take advantage of all-time high oil prices, British Columbia is renewing a movement to persuade the Canadian government to lift a 34-year-old ban on offshore oil and gas exploration.

"The moratorium obviously is still in place and we're working with the federal government, the newly elected folks, on how we can actually move forward with lifting that moratorium," British Columbia Energy Minister Richard Neufeld said last week.

He added that he is excited at the prospect of an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil and 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that may exist in deposits off the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, a potentially massive influx for the local economy.

However, the Conservative federal government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it has no plans to alter the federal moratorium on offshore drilling or to even hold discussions about doing so.

"The government's position hasn't changed," Emma Welford, spokeswoman for Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn.

Before joining the federal cabinet earlier this year, Lunn favored drilling but said that more precise estimates on British Columbia's potential are needed (Kennedy/Tuck, Toronto Globe and Mail, April 21). – EB

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