Kelvin Parsons, Opposition Energy Critic and MHA for the District of
Burgeo-Lapoile, today asked government in the House of Assembly to release
the details of the Hebron/Ben Nevis negotiation. Parsons also asked the
Premier what potential impact the failure to reach a Hebron/Ben Nevis deal
will have on future offshore exploration, the provinceís developing natural
gas industry and the provincial economy.
"The time has come for government
to release all details related to the secret negotiations on the Hebron/Ben
Nevis project," said Mr. Parsons. "All details related to the so-called
super royalty regime and the requested equity stake in the project should be
released to the public. For example, why did the province reduce their
equity request from 8.5 per cent to less than 5 per cent, an equity figure
that would not give them any decision-making authority on the project?
"I was also disappointed that the Premier would not provide further
details related on the discussion to potentially purchase Exxon Mobilís 37.9
per cent share of the project. The Premier could have given us information
as to how a proper valuation could be placed on these shares, how much
government would be willing to spend, what government would do if the
company refuses to sell their share, and how much will have to be invested
in up-front and start up costs for the field and infrastructure to proceed.
"In addition to these points, the Premier refused to acknowledge and
answer our questions related to the impact the breakdown of negotiations
would have on future offshore exploration, our natural gas industry and the
economy. The oil industry has already expressed their concerns that they
need more certainty to the rules governing offshore development before they
are willing to move forward with new investment. Many business people,
industry associations, tradespeople, and professional workers have also
expressed their concern that this project will not be moving forward in the
foreseeable future. Instead of giving us straightforward answers, the
Premier decided to deflect and hide from these issues.
"This project is too important for the Premier to refuse to provide
information to the people of the province. If the right decision was made,
all information should be shared with the public immediately."