Exxon Mobil Corp. - the largest and one of the most powerful companies in the world - appears to have offered to help the provincial government lift the federal moratorium on offshore oil and gas development, Public Eye has exclusively learned. On February 2, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Rich Neufeld met with Exxon Mobil executives while attending a convention in Houston, Texas. During that meeting, the executives told the minister their company "has new (offshore) technologies that are environmentally friendly." And they asked how Exxon Mobil can "help move the moratorium and public opinion." This, according to a government report prepared by the ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources and obtained via a freedom of information request.
The ministry declined an opportunity to elaborate on what went on at that meeting. For their part, Exxon Mobil media advisor Susan Reeves stated in an email, "The offshore moratorium issue will be appropriately dealt with by the provincial government." She then added, the company "has a longstanding public record of supporting policy efforts that provide greater access to resources worldwide, including non-traditional or frontier resources." And it's that record that has offshore drilling opponents concerned.
Speaking with Public Eye, Living Oceans Society executive director Jennifer Lash said, "Obviously, we'd be hoping that Minister Neufeld would listen to the people of British Columbia and not to a company like Exxon Mobil when it comes to understanding what's in the best interests of British Columbia. And we also would be greatly concerned if the provincial government is going to start working in collaboration with Exxon Mobil to try to reach out to the public and try to do some sort of propaganda campaign to try and convince people from B.C. that offshore oil and gas drilling is safe when we know it's not
"I don't think it's up to Exxon to try and convince the people of B.C. of anything," continued Ms. Lash. "The people of B.C. are very smart on these issues. They know what they want. And I think it's actually quite presumptuous of Exxon to try and move public opinion. We don't need a company like that to come in and tell us what to do...And one would hope (Neufeld) would just tell a company like Exxon that they're not welcome here to come and sway public opinion - that that's not necessary." The following is the relevant section of the aforementioned report.
February 3, 2007
The 2007 NAPE Team consisted of:
Corporate Meetings & Events Team (CMET):
Both/Logistics Team (BLT):
Vic Levson, RGDB
Fil Ferri, RGDB
Chris Adams, RGDB
Brenda Miller, MCRB
J.R. Massey, VP Canada/South America (Production)
William T. Drennan, VP, Americas (Exploration)
Milton Chaves, Advisor - Americas, International Government Relations
Chris Welberry, Public Affairs Advisor (Production)
(Natalie Poole-Moffat did not attend this session.)
W. Drennan provided an overview of Exxon-Mobil's operations; Exploration, Development and Operations. E-M is spending increasing money on exploration in Canada with Athabaska acquisitions.
* What is status of off-shore? E-M has new technologies that are environmentally friendly. How can E-M help move the moratorium and public opinion?
* MEMPR provided overview of status: Working on new science and technology program, understanding others' regulations and moving toward developing our own. BC has been working with Eastern provinces. Our goal is to have one level of government review. Key challenges are lack of public knowledge and organized environmental groups. E-M (Drennan) felt the 2006 dialogue with First Nations and Communities were positive. MEMPR noted the need to keep an 'alumni' from past trips and continue to positive information sharing work.
* E-M continues its exploration, but not in BC. Their infrastructure works best with deep and technology based well drilling (re-entry). BC's shallow gas plays are not economical for E-M's infrastructure and they will leave that type of business to the smaller players.