Will offshore oil turn [Newfoundland] around?

Written by  //  October 8, 2007  //  Canada, Economy, Oil & gas, Public Policy  //  No comments

The Economist Newfoundland diary
Toil and trouble
Oct 8th 2007
… I have come here not for the past, but for the future, which is centred on offshore oil. Three fields are already active, producing 10% of Canada’s crude, and the tentative development of a fourth is announced just days before I arrive. With the price of oil nearing record levels, Newfoundland’s 505,000 inhabitants are hoping to become comfortable, if not rich: a novel state for this perennially poor province.
The slight hitch is that this oil is not easily accessible. All four fields are about 350km offshore in an area of the North Atlantic called “Iceberg Alley” because of the massive chunks of ice that break from glaciers in Greenland each spring and drift south on the Labrador current.
My first stop is the Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association, which represents the companies involved in offshore oil, to find out how oil can be extracted in such hazardous conditions.
“We’ve learned some things since Hibernia,” explains Deirdre Greene, the cheery policy director for the association. She is referring to the C$5.8 billion ($5.8 billion) concrete platform that went into operation ten years ago. Designed to withstand the impact of a six-million-tonne iceberg, which the engineers thought might occur once every 10,000 years, the platform was enormous and hugely over-engineered, she says. They have since determined that in water less than 100 metres deep, anything larger than 2.5m tonnes would run aground. Complete article

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