N.L. oil regulator releases call for offshore exploration bids after federal delay

Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Newfoundland and Labrador's oil industry regulator is releasing its 2022 call for bids on new offshore exploration licences.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is inviting oil companies to bid on licences for 38 parcels of land totalling almost 100,000 square kilometres off Newfoundland's east coast.

Ottawa delayed the call for bids in late March by about a month and a half because it wanted more time to review the process.

The delay caused anxiety within the oil sector because it came three weeks after federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault delayed approval for another proposal, the controversial Bay du Nord deepwater oil project off the coast of St. John's. The minister gave the go-ahead for that project in early April.

The call for bids coincides with an announcement from environmental law group Ecojustice that it has filed an application to have Guilbeault's approval of Bay du Nord examined in Federal Court.

The application for judicial review filed May 6 makes numerous claims, including that Guilbeault did not consider the project's downstream emissions, which are produced when oil is ultimately burned as fuel.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2022.