With the Sable Offshore Energy Project now in the rearview mirror and the last of its natural gas delivered to Nova Scotia, the province’s energy and mines minister is touting the project as an economic and employment success.
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board announced Tuesday that all of the Sable project’s fields ended on Monday as planned. On Thursday, Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette released an opinion piece on the energy project celebrating its benefit to Nova Scotians and looking forward to a future of new offshore oil and gas projects in the province.
For Maritimes Energy Association CEO Ray Ritcey, the story of Sable Offshore is one about the people involved over the decades.
“The people that have been involved in the project, many of them had significant careers and have been able to take that expertise and build around their families and communities and this area and also around the region, and in many cases around the world,” said Ritcey.
The Exxon Mobil project, about 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax, shipped its first natural gas in 1999 as the first project of its kind in Canada. The Nova Scotia government says it has received nearly $4 billion as a result, with the project investing tens of millions of additional dollars in local research, training and education for young people.
Larry Hughes, an engineering professor at Dalhousie University and founding fellow at the MacEachern Institute for Public Policy, points to the project’s peak during its first 10 years of operation.
“The geology proved far more complex than what was expected; the size of the project was scaled back over the years. The heyday was in the early to mid-2000s,” Hughes explained.
“By 2010, the writing was on the wall, and Sable was in decline.”
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Robin Tress of the Council of Canadians wonders how much government royalty money will go toward decommissioning the matured offshore gas project.
“The fact that we’re on the hook for the decommissioning costs of the Sable Offshore gas project shows again that the regulator that is supposed to govern and regulate offshore drilling is doing so in favour of the industry and not in favour of the people of Nova Scotia,” Tress stated.
The provincial Ministry of Energy and Mines says Sable Offshore’s decommissioning costs will be paid by Exxon Mobil, deducted from the royalties owed to the province.
That cost will not be publicly disclosed.