Project setback sets unusual tone

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A twist surrounding proposed oil development in Cape Breton is encouragement for environmentalists.

While plans for an oil and gas test well near Lake Ainslie are by no means dead in the water, having a potential partner back out because of strong opposition to Petroworth Resources Inc.’s project certainly seems a game changer.

Many people in addition to those living in the area were watching this situation closely, if only because of the huge attention oil exploration and hydraulic fracturing receive – across the Maritimes and elsewhere.

An unidentified company stepped away from negotiations on the test drilling, it was revealed Monday, the perceived reason being unflagging protests from residents and the Mi’kmaq community. The Western Canadian company’s role was to finance the drilling in exchange for a percentage interest in the property.

The development company describes the prospective partner’s decision as a setback. Petroworth says it is determined to pursue the project.

The Margaree Environmental Association had focused earlier efforts on an attempt to quash the drilling permit, arguing that the activity was too close to a stream feeding the lake – the largest freshwater body in Cape Breton. That was denied. Spokesman Neal Livingston is calling this latest turn a huge victory for the group.

Indeed, after the failure of an argument based on environmental concerns, a dropped link in the money train earns at least a setback. Funny how that works.

But Livingston is also saying he hopes other potential financial partners will follow suit and back away.

It is interesting that a company based on the other side of the country would be swayed by the strong vocalizations in Cape Breton. PR apparently travels great distances – or at least that’s the perception.

This might prove no more than a temporary moral victory for the environmentalists. But it will also serve as impetus for groups elsewhere fighting oil exploration in what they deem sensitive areas.

Organizations: Petroworth Resources, Margaree Environmental Association

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Lake Ainslie

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Recent comments

  • RealityCheck
    November 13, 2012 - 18:02

    Lacking any proper regulations or enforcement in Nova Scotia all it takes is the money and machines. Thanks to the fracking shale gas propaganda machine in the Margarees and Halifax nothing has changed, mission accomplished.

  • Geoffrey May
    November 13, 2012 - 07:37

    I don't believe Mednick had a partner . Mednick's cash strapped company has been claiming to be drilling imminently for the past two years , yet nothing . The fact is that the Mednick holds the lease on a series of extensions, which ignore Petroworth noncompliance with their work on the lease .Oil companies have explored the area Mednick wants to drill for over a hundred years, oil and gas have been found, but not in commercial quantifies . Dexter lets Petroworth hold the lease because no one else wants it. This lease should be withdrawn,. The Municipal Council passed a resolution opposing the lease , which includes the watershed for Lake Ainslie Margaree River system , and the watershed for the Glenora Distillery, this is an agricultural tourism area , and oil and gas development are not wanted