June 13-20, 2005

EA decision refers BEPCo drilling proposal to CNSOPB for action

In an environmental assessment (EA) decision statement, federal Environment Minister St√ąphane Dion said last week that BEPCo Canada's proposed exploration drilling project off Nova Scotia's coast is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, provided the mitigation measures and follow-up program outlined in the comprehensive study report are carried out. Accordingly, he has referred the project back to the responsible authority, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), for appropriate action.

BEPCo is proposing to conduct an exploration drilling program off the coast of Nova Scotia on the Scotian Slope, within exploration licence (EL) 2407 issued by the CNSOPB. The program would entail the drilling of one to three wells during 2005-2007 and up to three appraisal wells during 2008-2009. Exploration drilling would involve the use of a mobile drilling unit, such as a jack-up rig, semi-submersible rig, or drill ship.

The Minister's decision was based on: the conclusions and recommendations of the comprehensive study report submitted by the CNSOPB; submissions received during the public comment period, and the CNSOPB's response to the comments; and the required implementation of the mitigation measures and follow-up program described in the comprehensive study report.

Under the amended Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, once a comprehensive study process is complete, the Minister of Environment determines whether to require additional information or actions to address public concerns. If no additional information or actions are required, the Minister issues an EA decision statement concluding whether the project is likely to have significant adverse environmental effects. The decision statement also includes a requirement for the implementation of the mitigation measures and follow-up program described in the comprehensive study report.

The decision statement may be viewed on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry, www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/index_e.cfm, reference number 04-03-2712.

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