Canada addresses maritime boundary dispute off East Coast

Ottawa is moving to resolve a boundary dispute between two East Coast provinces involving the resource rich Laurentian sub-basin off Cape Breton. The dispute between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia has blocked exploration activity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence area.


CALGARY�Ottawa is moving to resolve a boundary dispute between two East Coast provinces involving the resource rich Laurentian sub-basin off Cape Breton. The dispute between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia has blocked exploration activity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence area.

Ottawa appointed a three-member arbitration board May 31 that will attempt to resolve the lengthy jurisdictional dispute. Federal Resources Minister Ralph Goodale said he hopes the matter will be resolved within 18 months and that the provinces will establish an interim agreement to allow oil and gas exploration to go ahead.

The area in dispute covers 23,168 sq miles, and about 13 oil and gas companies have acquired acreage in and around the region or expressed interest in exploration.

The arbitration panel is headed by retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Gerard LaForest, and its conclusions will be binding. It is expected to take 7-18 months to complete its findings.

An offshore petroleum accord reached in 1986 gave the bulk of the area to Nova Scotia, but Newfoundland disputes that boundary.

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