Georges Bank Moratorium Extended

Petroleum Directorate

December 22, 1999 1:00 PM

The Georges Bank moratorium has been extended until Dec. 31,
2012, according to Ralph Goodale, Minister of Natural Resources
Canada, and Gordon Balser, Minister responsible for the Nova
Scotia Petroleum Directorate.

The ministers are accepting the recommendation released earlier
this year by the Georges Bank Panel report to extend the existing
moratorium. The moratorium on petroleum exploration and drilling
on Georges Bank came into effect in Canada in 1988, with the
Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord
Implementation Acts (Accord Acts). Georges Bank is one of the
most productive fishing grounds in the world, and the governments
want to ensure that drilling would not negatively impact the
area.

"The process had done its job, and now we must do ours, which is
to protect an environmental and economic asset for Nova
Scotians," said Mr. Balser. "Now we have to come together to
improve understanding between the fishery and the petroleum
sectors, which both offer so much promise for the future.
Georges Bank is unique and so was the action taken, but the
growing interest in natural gas development requires a
cooperative and respectful approach. The voice of traditional
industries must be heard. We want to accommodate, not replace one
industry for another."

"Our decision to extend the exploration moratorium on Georges
Bank was based on the panel's extensive public consultations, its
review, and its final recommendation," said Mr. Goodale.

The federal and provincial ministers responsible for natural
resources appointed an independent panel in December 1995, as
called for in the Accord Acts. The panel conducted a public
review of the environmental and socio-economic impact of
exploration and drilling on the Bank, and recommended the
extension of the moratorium. The moratorium was scheduled to
expire on Jan. 1, 2000.

The Georges Bank Panel was made up of John Mullally, chair and
retired public servant from the natural resources sector, Susan
Holtz, a private consultant specializing in research and
implementation projects in energy, environment, and sustainable
development, and Dr. Ron Loucks, President of R.H. Loucks
Oceanology Limited.

Public hearings were held in Yarmouth, Shelburne, Lunenberg and
Halifax. Members of the public and representatives from the
petroleum industry, fishing associations, business organizations,
environmental groups and municipal, provincial and federal
governments made presentations to the panel.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     The Georges Bank moratorium has been extended for twelve

years.

     The federal and provincial governments have accepted that

recommendation from the Georges Bank Panel.

     The original moratorium was scheduled to expire on January

1st, 2000.

     That's been extended to December 31st, 2012.

     Gordon Balser, the minister responsible for Nova Scotia's

Petroleum Directorate, says the extension will help improve

understanding between the fishing and petroleum industries.

     He says the growing interest in natural gas development

requires a cooperative and respectful approach, where one

industry does not replace the other.

-30-

Contact: Bruce Cameron
         Nova Scotia Petroleum Directorate
         902-424-2288
         E-mail: cameronb@gov.ns.ca

         Pat Breton
         Natural Resources Canada
         613-996-2007


amc                 December 22, 1999     12:56 p.m.