Nfld. & Labrador

Equinor, Exxon given environmental go-ahead for exploratory drilling offshore

Both companies have said it would take them weeks to cap any well blowouts in the areas.

The drilling will take place hundreds of kilometers offshore within the next 10 years

ExxonMobil is the main owner and operator of the Hibernia oil field. (CBC)

Equinor and ExxonMobil have been given the green light from Canada's Environmental Assessment Agency to drill exploratory oil wells in the Flemish Pass and Jeanne d'Arc basins in the province's offshore.

Neither of the oil giants' proposed drilling projects are "likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account," according to a release sent by the federal agency on Wednesday afternoon.

"The decision was informed by meaningful consultations with Indigenous peoples, public input and scientific evidence, including Indigenous traditional knowledge and an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions," the release read.

Both companies have waited over two years for the agency's approval.

Equinor can drill up to 24 exploration wells in the Flemish Pass, at least 460 kilometres east of St. John's, between 2019 and 2027.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil can drill up to 18 wells in both the Flemish Pass and the Jeanne d'Arc basins, at least 265 kilometres east of St. John's, between 2019 and 2029.

Both companies filed documents to the federal agency saying it would take weeks to cap any well blowouts in the proposed drilling areas.

ExxonMobil is the main owner and operator of the Hebron oil field.

Equinor announced an agreement to develop the Bay du Nord oil project in the Flemish Pass basin with the provincial government last summer.

Bay du Nord will be the province's first deepwater project. At more than 500 kilometres off St. John's, it will be the world's furthest oil production site from shore in the world.

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