NEB puts Nunavut seismic testing review into limbo
If Sept. 5 info deadline not met, “the board will consider the application withdrawn”
An application for extensive seismic testing in the seas just east of Baffin Island lies in suspension this summer, after the National Energy Board ruled the applicants failed to answer questions by three communities along the coastline.
If the proponent, a group of three companies, does not supply answers to the NEB’s questions by Sept. 5, 2013, the board “will consider the application withdrawn,” the NEB said in a letter. (See document embedded below.)
The joint application by TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, Petroleum GeoServices and Multi Klient Invest, put to the NEB in May 2011, called for sound-producing devices to run scans from air guns to the sea floor for a period of two months each year for five years.
Seismic testing is often done to identify geological anomalies under the sea bed that could be targets for oil and gas drilling.
Residents of Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq opposed the project at public hearings this past May, saying the seismic scheme would damage large sea mammals and their food sources along the full length of the Baffin coastline.
These include whales, walrus, and seals, which the communities rely on for food.
Company officials met with residents of Baffin communities in the spring, but residents found them unable to answer questions about the effects of the project on wildlife.
The companies “recognize most of these problems in material they publicly handed out, but there is nothing in their plans to mitigate it,” said Jen Inuarak of Pond Inlet, who attended the meeting in her community.
“They couldn’t even say if they’ve looked at seismic testing previously done, that overlaps their proposed testing areas.”
In its reasoning on the notice of suspension to the three companies, dated May 31, the National Energy Board noted a list of 10 questions from community members, mostly based on effects to sea life, that the proponent could not answer.
The board also ruled the companies failed to consider how regional scientific and traditional knowledge would be considered in the projects design, and noted that they did not provide information on survey schedules, complete with a rationale that “references considerations to wildlife and other environmental factors.”
The board said the applicants have until Sept. 5 to file the needed information, or it will “consider the application withdrawn.”
Any new applications must include the required information, the board stated.