An oil industry critic is questioning the independence of a consultant Newfoundland and Labrador has named to review the province's oil spill prevention and response practices.
Master mariner Capt. Mark Turner — who has in worked marine, onshore and offshore oil and gas operations and project management positions for three decades — has been appointed to lead the review.
Turner's former position, as chief operating officer of North Atlantic Pipeline Partners and Newfoundland LNG Ltd., has left at least one industry critic questioning if Turner can be described as unbiased.
"It looks like big government and big oil have appointed an insider, a very close insider, to conduct this review when we actually need someone that's independent," said Memorial University biology professor Ian Jones.
"At best, we have an insider. At worst, we have someone with a blatant conflict of interest."
Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale argued in the house of assembly Wednesday that Turner's experience in the oil and gas industry ensures that he'll do a good job.
"The fact that he is on the inside of the industry, we feel, is the strength that he brings to this whole review process," she said.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said Wednesday she is willing to give Turner a chance.
"I trust that Capt. Turner is going to put the full force of his expertise into that study," she said.
Last week, Premier Danny Williams promised the province would do an independent review of the legislative and regulatory regimes, capabilities and practices in place in the province for prevention and remediation of oil spills.
Chevron began drilling the deepest offshore oil well in Canadian waters to date on Sunday. The exploration well is located in the Orphan Basin more than 400 kilometres northeast of St. John's.
Three offshore oil production platforms are currently operating in the ocean east of Newfoundland.