The fact that the Hebron oil project has been given a green light from regulators doesn't mean Newfoundland and Labrador will let go of a fight over local benefits, the natural resources minister says.

ExxonMobil plans to bring Hebron on stream in 2017, making it the fourth oil field to go into production off Newfoundland's east coast. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board has approved the development application, clearing a significant hurdle.

But Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy said the government is still insisting that ExxonMobil and its partners commit to building all three of the Hebron platform's modules in the province.

ExxonMobil wants to have one of the modules constructed elsewhere.

"I've indicated to them in no uncertain terms, and in very strong language that we as a province, as a people, are to benefit from our natural resources," Kennedy said.

The choice, though, belongs to ExxonMobil, which is the operator of the project.

Kennedy warned that following through on that decision could prove costly.

"Exxon could say, 'We are going outside the province, no matter what the province says,' and at that point, if we were successful, they would be subject to significant penalties," Kennedy said.

Despite the conflict of opinions over local benefits, Kennedy said the dispute should not delay plans for developing Hebron.