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Newfoundland Has Learned from Alberta
|Premier Hon. Brian Tobin, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, is interviewed by reporters while in Calgary where he spoke to an APEGGA Education Foundation fund-raising dinner. (APEGGA photo by Stacey Andrews)|
Newfoundland has taken a page from Alberta in reenergizing its once
floundering economy. Like Alberta, Canada's easternmost province has embraced
petroleum and an entrepreneurial spirit and is fiercely defending its
right to get the best return for its resources, Newfoundland and Labrador
Premier Brian Tobin told an APEGGA Education Foundation fund-raising dinner
held June 12 in Calgary.
"I want Newfoundlanders to be more like Albertans, who took hold of their oil and gas industry in the 1970s," Mr. Tobin said. "I come from a province that long believed it was poor. We always had resources - fish, forestry and mining - but we made some bad deals. After a while, you figure out you only get what you negotiate."
As a result, he said, the giant Voisey Bay nickel, copper and cobalt project will only proceed when both the mining and processing facilities are located in the province. Guided by the same philosophy, he said, Newfoundland is close to reaching an equitable deal with Quebec on developing its Lower Churchill hydroelectric site.
It's this new attitude, Mr. Tobin said, that has allowed Newfoundland to go from last to first in Canadian GDP employment growth; the province and Alberta are forecast to lead the nation in economic growth over the next five years. Even the once-moribund fishery's revenues have increased from $450 million, when the cod fishery was closed in 1992, to $1 billion today, thanks to a shift to the crab and shrimp fisheries and to value-added processing.
Above all, Newfoundland's new offshore petroleum industry is driving the economic turnaround. A year ago, the province was producing none of Canada's light crude oil. With the Hibernia field now well into production, Terra Nova to come on stream next year and White Rose and Hebron to follow shortly thereafter, Newfoundland is expected to produce one third of Canada's light crude by 2004. As well, five fields - each with potential oil reserves of 500 million barrels - have been identified in the Flemish Cap area between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
"With the mature, solid experience Alberta has developed in the oil industry, there are lots of opportunities for you and your members in Newfoundland," Mr. Tobin said. "We're moving into a position where you'll soon need an APEGGA East."