Let's drill without fracking: Shoal Point Energy not giving up on western N.L.

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Let's drill without fracking: Shoal Point Energy not giving up on western N.L.

Let's drill without fracking: Shoal Point Energy not giving up on western N.L.

Shoal Point Energy is not giving up just yet on retrieving what it estimates to be half a billion barrels of oil from the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The company now wants to try drilling without the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

"Shoal Point Energy would like to attempt to drill a well and test it to see if we can produce oil without hydraulically fracturing the well. We have reason to believe we can," said Mark Jarvis, Chief Executive Officer of Shoal Point Energy.

The company will submit a plan in May to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and the Department of Natural Resources to back its newest findings.

An independent panel appointed by the provincial government in 2014 to review the impact of hydraulic fracturing in western Newfoundland released a final report in May 2016 that suggested putting a pause on the drilling technique for now. 

Since then, Shoal Point Energy decided to take a second look at data from drill stem tests which revealed a natural fracturing of the earth.

"All the tectonic movement looks like it's generated an extensive fracturing in the rock," Jarvis said.

Staff went back over the data, he said, and believe they can drill without hydraulic fracturing. Jarvis said he was not aware of the state of the shale when he first purposed hydraulic fracturing as an option.

Still opposition

While Shoal Point Energy is determined to produce oil in an area where it has already spent close to $50 million, people who live there are not so sure. 

Raymond Cusson from Glenburnie-Birchy Head-Shoal Brook in Gros Morne National Park opposed hydraulic fracturing from the very beginning. 

He doesn't want to see any drilling on the province's west coast.

"No drilling is safe and no drilling is done without environmental cost," he said.

Cusson believes any spill while drilling would ruin the fishery in the area, and negatively impact the economy surrounding the tourism industry.

He plans to monitor Shoal Point Energy's next move and hopes the Newfoundland and Labrador government informs the public of any changes to drilling on the west coast. 

"We are the community. We are the ones that live here," he said.