It’s not often that a small out-of-the-way place like Newfoundland and Labrador is held up as an example to the world, but Mark Shrimpton, senior associate, socio-economic service, Stantec Consulting Ltd. told those gathered at the Arctic Technology Conference in Houston the province is a global leader in developing arctic resources. Though Newfoundland and Labrador is part of Atlantic Canada and is not precisely in the Arctic, the offshore conditions are harsh and include the need for ice management. So from an oil and gas perspective, operations offshore the province qualify as “arctic.” US Geological Survey studies estimate that the Arctic accounts for about 13% of the undiscovered oil, 30% of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20% of the undiscovered natural gas liquids in the world. “There is great potential in the North,” Shrimpton said, and for Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s been “a very good news story.” Before offshore development took place, the province was economically challenged with high unemployment, limited industrialization, and dependence on federal transfers. Offshore development has taken the province from a “have not” to a “have” region of Canada, changing the business community and creating a sustainable industry that has supported other industrial growth that is outside the oil and gas industry. “St. John’s (Newfoundland’s capital city) is more cosmopolitan as a result of oil and gas activity, which is a plus for the city and the province,” Shrimpton said. The success in such an unlikely area sets a precedent and provides the industry with some guidelines moving forward. According to Shrimpton, these include:

  • Engaging stakeholders early and often
  • Educating those who will be affected by development
  • Establishing informed aspirations and goals
  • Developing a solid regulatory framework
  • Conducting industrial benefits planning
Though the challenges of developing the Arctic are daunting, the rewards are considerable. These potential resources are the impetus for many companies that are investing in technologies that will open the harsh arctic regions to development.