Photo: Hibernia; Source: ExxonMobil

Gov’t funding for Canada’s offshore oil sector to protect jobs

Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced the allocation of financial support for the Hibernia offshore project, which will help create and maintain offshore jobs amid challenging market conditions.

The government announced on Wednesday morning that the Hibernia Management and Development Company (HMDC) will receive $38 million in funding from the Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Assistance Fund in a push to create and maintain jobs.

Unifor, Canada’s workers’ union, has welcomed the decision, saying that the joint federal and provincial efforts to secure funding for Canada’s East Coast offshore oil industry should help protect good jobs.

“Offshore oil and gas has provided good jobs and important economic activity on the East Coast for decades”, said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

“Strategic public funds in short-term support for this important industry must benefit workers first, not shareholders”.

According to the government, the support will be allocated to restart well work, perform drilling rig upgrades, and invest in new digital technology, resulting in an estimated 300,000 hours of work over an estimated 18 month period.

The investment will result in 77 additional, full-time equivalent (FTE) positions in 2021, and maintain employment for 44 FTE positions in 2021 and 27 FTE positions in 2022, for a total commitment of 148 FTE positions.

HMDC has submitted a proposal for an additional scope of work which is currently being evaluated. If approved, it would bring the total funding commitment for the Hibernia project to $66 million, the government said.

First announced by the federal government on September 16, the Fund allocated more than $320 million for safety, maintenance and upgrades, and stimulating employment.

However, the union pointed out that recent job cuts at Husky suggest the new public funds have not been properly allocated.

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“Workers, their families, and their communities need support during the pandemic”, said Dias.

“Employers must be held accountable for the public funds they receive”, he added.

Unifor offshore workers and their supporters held a large rally at the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature on 16 September 2020 to call on all levels of government to help stabilize the industry to reverse layoffs and ensure that the sector can come out of the Covid-19 economic downturn intact.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers.

Following the announcement about the support for the Hibernia project, Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, said: “This project will create and maintain jobs in the near term for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and create a boost across a number of supply and service sectors including well services, engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, logistics and telecommunications”.