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Science Response 2022/003

*This advice was developed in a peer review meeting in 2019 and should be interpreted within the context of the situation at that time.

Review of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Equinor Bay du Nord Development Project


Equinor Canada Ltd. (Equinor Canada), and its partner Husky Oil Operations Limited (Husky Energy), are proposing to develop the Bay du Nord field, which includes Bay du Nord, Bay de Verde, Bay de Verde East and the Baccalieu discovery (collectively the Core Bay du Nord [CBdN] Development) offshore eastern Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) for the production of oil and gas. The Project is located in the Flemish Pass area of the Canada-NL Offshore Area, approximately 500 km east-northeast of St. John’s, NL and is outside Canada’s 200 nautical mile (NM) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The Project Area (PA) includes three Exploration Licenses (ELs 1143, 1154, and 1156) and three Significant Discovery Licenses (SDLs 1047, 1048, and 1055) in the Flemish Pass area. The project includes the subsea development and production of crude oil from a floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) installation and the drilling of up to 40 wells. The Core BdN Development will occur primarily in the area as currently defined by SDL 1055 and EL 1143. The Project will include offshore construction and installation, hook-up and commissioning, production and maintenance operations, drilling and eventual decommissioning, as well as associated supporting surveys, field work, and supply and servicing activities. In addition to the Core BdN Development, the Project may also include potential future development within the Project Area. Hence, the Project includes the Core BdN Development and areas of potential future development.

The Core BdN Development has a life of field between 12 and 20 years. The PA also includes lands adjacent to the Core BdN Development Area. Equinor Canada has majority interests in other ELs and SDLs in the area of the Project with future tie-back opportunities. Should future resource potential be discovered in areas adjacent to the Core BdN Development Area, resources could be developed and produced from the production installation through the addition of subsea tie-backs. This could potentially extend the life of the Project to 30 years.

The Project requires review and approval pursuant to the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) as it has been determined to constitute a “designated project” under Section 11 of the Regulations Designating Physical Activities. In addition, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) requires that a project-specific environmental assessment (EA) be completed for offshore oil and gas development projects, pursuant to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland and Labrador Act and the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act (the Accord Acts) and to support a Development Application. It is intended that the EA review process for the Project will satisfy the requirements of CEAA 2012 and the C-NLOPB’s Accord Acts EA processes.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was prepared in accordance with requirements of the above referenced EA legislation and processes, as well as the project-specific EIS Guidelines issued by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) on September 26, 2018, (CEAA 2018) and other generic EA guidance documents issued by the CEAA as referenced throughout. On February 18, 2019, the Fisheries Protection Program of the Ecosystems Management Branch in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region requested that Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Science undertake a review of specific sections of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Equinor CBdN Project. Science Branch undertook a Science Response Process (SRP) for this review. The information from this scientific review was provided to Ecosystems Management to help form part of the Department’s response to the overall adequacy of the EIS Reports.

The objective of this review was to evaluate:

  1. The sufficiency of baseline data and appropriateness of methodologies to predict effects;
  2. The sufficiency of mitigation measures proposed by the Proponent;
  3. The level of certainty in the conclusions reached by the Proponent on the effects;
  4. The manner in which significance of the environmental effects, as they pertain to DFO’s mandate, have been determined (i.e. the scientific merit of the information presented and the validity of the Proponent’s methodologies and conclusions);
  5. The follow-up program proposed by the Proponent; and,
  6. Whether additional information is required from the Proponent to complete the technical review.

The information required for this review can be found in a number of sections throughout the EIS report, and associated appendices. The EIS and EIS Summary are available on the Agency’s website.

This Science Response Report results from the regional science response process of March 19, 2019 on the Review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Bay du Nord Development Project.

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