Premier Kathy Dunderdale said last week ‘ a line in the sand’ was being drawn with the big oil giant ExxonMobil, in regards to the future of the Hebron oil development project.
ExxonMobil is hinting strongly it plans to have the third module, originally to be built in this province, built off our shores. The provincial government had an independent advisor say this third module could indeed be built in the province.
Premier Dunderdale said what’s important is the jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to be lost if this module leaves. It’s a stand all residents support, even the opposition parties. This all started last fall when Kiewit Offshore Services in Marystown decided it could not build the two modules here as originally planned – it could build one and that was all. Now the province is suggesting the third module can be built and should be at Bull Arm in Trinity Bay.
Previous provincial Premiers have had their spats with big oil companies and the federal government over offshore oil development and have come out favourably on the opinion scale with residents, so Mrs. Dunderdale likely believes she can do the same and reclaim some of her recent lost popularity with the electorate.
This strategy may be good for the premier but when dealing with big oil giants it may not always succeed, since a penalty clause is no big issue in the overall scheme of things when massive offshore oil revenues beckon.
A letter to the editor has arrived at The Southern Gazette office identifying some negativity in government’s approach to the deepsea fishery in Marystown and Burin – two anchor communities in the industry in the past.
Many Burin Peninsula residents can sympathize with this approach when the jobs they enjoyed were allowed to slip away. There was no drawing ‘ a line in the sand’ by the premier in this industry.
The fishery in this province has provided the world with food for over 500 years and has been and will be a ‘renewable’ resource. Once the oil is gone, it’s gone! It’s not renewable in our time.
Residents realize the fishery may not have been able to survive in its present state, but like most other industries in this country owners and managers have had to adapt to consumers’ requirements.
Food, in particular fish, will always be in demand in most corners of this world.
Kudos to Premier Dunderdale for looking at drawing a line in the sand, in her fight with the oil companies, to obtain maximum benefits for her constituents.
But she and her fellow government colleagues should also realize fishery workers are part of their constituency as well, and desire that same ‘ toe to toe’, ‘face to face’ confrontation and not merely ‘ handouts’ through government make work projects lasting a couple of months.
Are these people expected to fade away into oblivion to try and survive on their own? They are victims of government policies and actions, not of their own doing.
Editor/Manager of the Southern Gazette