Submission by Mr. Hayes, P.Eng, to the Public Review on Offshore Oil and Gas

The following is an excerpt from the transcript of the Federal Public Review hearings on lifting the moratoria on offshore oil and gas developement in British Columbia. The hearing was held in Prince Rupert on April 14, 2004. Mr. Hayes, P.Eng is the Vice Chair of the APEGBC Northern Branch. He spoke on his own behalf. SUBMISSION BY MR. GEORGE HAYES: MR. HAYES: Just a bit of background. I was a Director of Engineering for Dominion Bridge, and we built the Gulf Canada drill rig for the Beaufort Sea and I was very much involved in that. I was co-chair for the Northwest Corridor Transportation Task Force. Oil and gas was one of the issues that we discussed and looked at. I am vice-chair of the Northern Branch of the Association of Professional Engineers, and I am on the Steering Committee for the Oil and Gas Offshore OMAE Conference which is to be held in June – June 20th to 25th – and we have got two days dedicated to B.C. offshore oil and gas issues. Now, I am going to focus on three issues – there are others, but – that I think are extremely important regarding offshore oil and gas. The first one that I consider to be critical is the First Nation land claims. First Nations located adjacent to the Coast of British Columbia have, under principles of common law as applied in Canada, an ownership right that extends beyond the tidewater and has been recognized by the courts of Canada. Ownership rights that have not been resolved by treaty exist under the Canadian Constitution, and again, having recognition by the courts of Canada. It is, therefore, suggested that the Government of Canada and British Columbia move forward as soon as possible in establishing the extent of these ownership rights. These rights have been suggested by the Delgamuukw decision that should be negotiated rather than adjudicated in the courts. In order to undertake the negotiation process, serious considerations must be given to the suggestion made by the chief negotiator of the Tsimshian Nation more than two years ago that funding be made available to the nation to undertake independent, transparent, needed research into the environmental, fisheries, socio-economic impacts of the nation. The Federal Government funding responsibilities under the Indian Act must provide this support. If outcomes of a serious ownership partnership is to be achieved with the Government of Canada and British Columbia, then a direct commitment must be undertaken now to proceed on that front. The second area that I would like to discuss is the engineering. Many meetings that I have participated in regarding the discussions around oil and gas offshore development, there seems to be an effort to sidestep the role of engineering in the process. Engineering would supply practical wisdom, not just technical mastery, though important, and an understanding of the long-term effects, not just short-term advantages, and protection of the public interest. The lack of interest by the Government of Canada may best be demonstrated by their inability to participate in a meaningful way in this international conference that is being held in Vancouver. They are just not there at this time. I think it is important. It is an important part of the Canadian — they have been invited, they have been asked. At this moment, there is no solid commitment of any kind. It is not good enough to issue a purchase order to a Norwegian consortium to drill off the Coast of British Columbia and send the royalties to Victoria and Ottawa. The research and engineering knowledge must be adjusted using local traditional engineering, research knowledge, and integrate to local conditions in the field. The decision based on experience in the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea attached to a skyhook when it moves to the Coast of British Columbia is not adequate. It was suggested that the real partnership between the engineering community, the oil and gas development process should be treated as a matter or urgency. It is not good enough to add two more helicopters and seaplanes in Prince Rupert. The Government of Newfoundland must be congratulated for the decision to move to concrete from steel, thereby opening the door for an engineering industry. Now I would like to move to a third point, economic development. History has shown that there has been limited effort to capture opportunities offered by various resource industries as a platform for development in an engineering and manufacturing potential around the mining industry, oil and gas, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture industries in Canada, and British Columbia in particular. We have a 20-billion-dollar forest industry, we have got zero engineering, practically. We have little or no engineering for our aquaculture or fisheries industry, though we have, in many cases, been the originators. The aquaculture industry in Chile was developed in British Columbia, but we no longer have a potential for jobs, et cetera. Sweden has a 12-billion-dollar engineering industry built around a four-billion-dollar forest industry. So it is this type of thing that we should be taking a very, very careful look at developing a strategy for this type of development. It must be taken more seriously both by the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia as far as building that infrastructure. If we look at all our industries to date – and we have a big oil and gas industry in Northeastern British Columbia – where is the engineering? It is elsewhere. Just talk to the engineering community in the Northeast. This is a very, very serious matter, and I think it is quality jobs. It is also to move the technology forward to deal with environmental issues, to deal with solutions, not problems. So that is more or less my position on these three areas. But I have been involved with some of the top fests around oil and gas for quite some time.
weblink: Federal Offshore Moratorium Public Reviewfrom: Government of Canadain detail XlnkS680 XlnkC1908

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