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.