Agency to review ban on exploration off Canada's West Coast

A British Columbia government agency plans to review a 28-year-old ban imposed by the Canadian government on exploration off the West Coast. BC Northern Development Commissioner John Backhouse said the province hopes to begin a review in the fall.


A British Columbia government agency plans to review a 28-year-old ban imposed by the Canadian government on exploration off the West Coast.

BC Northern Development Commissioner John Backhouse said the province hopes to begin a review in the fall.

The move to review the ban was attacked by environmental groups, who said offshore drilling for oil and gas in a pristine area could seriously damage the environment.

David Hocking, of the Vancouver-based David Suzuki Foundation, said exploration activity could do enormous damage, �all for a short-term dollar.�

Geologists believe there are substantial oil and gas reserves off the West Coast, particularly near the Queen Charlotte Islands, north of Vancouver Island.

A 1998 report by the Geological Survey of Canada said there could be up to 9.8 billion bbl of oil and 1.2 billion cu m of natural gas in the area, although recoverable reserves would be limited by economic factors.

Shell Canada Ltd., Petro-Canada, and Chevron Canada Resources Ltd. hold drilling rights in the area (OGJ, Aug. 24, 1998, p. 28).

Ottawa has given no indication it would lift the drilling moratorium. Federal Environment Minister David Anderson, who helped impose the moratorium in 1972, has indicated he would oppose lifting the ban now.

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