The group representing the province's oil and gas industry unveiled a new strategy Thursday it hopes will build a legacy based on innovation and international competitiveness instead of on construction projects.

The chair of the Newfoundland Oil and Gas Industries Association, Sean Power said the local industry should look to oil and gas giant Norway and its development of a "10 commandments" approach, which outlined 25 years ago how the industry should be developed to provide a lasting legacy that was above politics.

'We've got to build an industry beyond simply construction.' - Sean Power

"NOIA believes Newfoundland is where Norway was in the 1970s," said Power. "The oil and gas industry has been [a] significant contributor to the provincial economy, and it's created lots of jobs and lots of opportunity for people, and lots of infrastructure and some pretty heady days over the last 10 years and turned us into a 'have' province," he said.

"But NOIA believes we can do better — a lot better."

Power said the province needs to move from a resource-based economy to a technology-based economy that's innovative, internationally competitive and sustainable.

"What we will see if we don't build a lasting and much more complete industry, is simply the ramp-up of projects in Bull Arm, and then when the project is over, the wind whistling through it out there with nobody working and then eventually maybe another project comes by," he said. 

"We've got to do better than that, we've got to develop a legacy, we've got to build an industry beyond simply construction."

The strategy describes "a renewed, collaborative partnership" between industry and government that will:

  • Change the way the vision and strategy is developed and then set it into motion through the establishment of an industry council
  • An industry development agency for implementation, monitoring and feedback
  • Change the way supplier development is approached
  • Enhance local expertise and skills
  • Realign project agreement to focus on the long term
  • Fully realize the Atlantic Accord's economic growth and development purpose

'World has changed'

"The world has changed at $45 oil, albeit temporarily," Power said.

He described the situation using a famous line from the Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

The good news, he said, includes record land sales and a fourth oil field about to go into production.

"One-point-six per cent of our total offshore acerage contains 12-billion potential barrels of oil — the best of times for Newfoundland, and the worst of times because it's $45 a barrel now and it's expensive to get at," he said.

"We all recognize that this is a valley, and we've seen these valleys before. and in two or three years we all recognize that … oil should be at $80 a barrel again."