Oil companies object to wind farm

  • Aug. 10, 2009 7:00 a.m.

Wind and oil might not mix, as oil and gas mega-corporations Shell and Chevron attempt to claim first rights to Naikun’s wind farm site. The two companies outlined their objections in a letter to BC’s environmental assessment office regarding Naikun Wind Energy’s plans for a 396 MW project in the Hecate Strait. Shell Canada acquired offshore permits covering most of the Queen Charlotte Basin beneath Hecate Strait and the Queen Charlotte Sound in the 1960s. Preliminary rounds of seismic drilling provided encouragement and in the 1970s they entered a business relationship with Chevron. But all exploration stopped in 1972 after the moratorium on oil and gas related activities was instituted. Now, the companies say, the wind farm’s activities may restrict them even more. “This partial sterilization of our tenure rights, and/or restriction of our ability to exercise our tenure rights, could result in lost socioeconomic opportunities,” write Lorraine Mitchelmore of Shell Canada and David MacInnis of Chevron Canada. They are seeking the right to shoot high quality seismic before any construction gets underway in the Hecate Strait and a redesign of the wind farm to accommodate seismic vessels, drilling and production. Meanwhile, Council of the Haida Nation vice-president Arnie Bellis says, “that’s not theirs to claim. That is our territory.” He says Shell and Chevron may have an existing permit from Canada, but that’s why the Haida are involved in the Haida title case. Mr. Bellis says he has seen the letter, which demands mitigation for and accommodation of any pre-existing rights. “You know our position on oil and gas,” he said, referring to the CHN’s well-stated opposition in waters around the islands. “That hasn’t changed.” The Naikun project is in the middle of an environmental assessment project that is expected to wrap up by the end of the year. It’s due to produce a response to the public consultations by August 3.