Earlier, we questioned why Exxon Mobil Corp. - one of British Columbia's smallest offshore oil and gas leaseholders - expressed an interest in that resource when executives met with Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Rich Neufeld back in February. Well, in an interview with Public Eye, Clark Wilson LLP energy and natural resources group chair Tony Fogarassy explained, "When you look at the oil and gas rights map of the BC offshore, it looks like (Exxon Mobil) hasn't got a lot out there because, gee, (Shell Canada Inc.) and (Chevron Corp.) have got tons. And from a proportional standpoint, they've got a small little bit. But, when you add up the number of hectares that Exxon Mobil has under lease, it's quite a substantial figure - because that whole area is completely unexplored. And the tracks that they've got are actually quite large by onshore standards."
Continued Mr. Fogarassy, "Everybody knows that Shell and Chevron, over the last couple years, have been doing a lot of technical ground work just hoping the federal government in particular will lift its moratorium. Because they know the provincial government will lift it immediately as soon as the feds lift theirs. And a company like Exxon Mobil would say, 'You know what - if Shell and Chevron look like they're somehow going to get that moratorium lifted. And Shell and Chevron are going to start doing some work. Well, we better get ready too because we've got offsetting acerage that might be prospective.' Exxon Mobil won't really have to do lots of heavy-lifting. They'll watch what Shell and Chevron are up to." And, if those two companies discover petroleum reserves near Exxon Mobil eases, the Irving, Texas corporate giant will undertake its own exploratory work.
But couldn't Exxon Mobil also be looking at acquiring deepwater leases, as was suggested in a comment posted by public policy consultant Bernard Schulmann? "Lots of companies have enormous successes in deepwater, so you're point is a good one," responded Mr. Fogarassy. "Angola, the Gulf of Mexico - in all these places, they're going into two, five, ten thousand feet of water. And then they're drilling for like five miles. And, there in deeper water off the coast of British Columbia - greater than two hundred meters - land is not leased."