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White Rose extension big news for Placentia area

The port of Argentia is home to the eastern Newfoundland stop for the Marine Atlantic ferry service, the Canadian Coast Guard, industrial service companies like MetalWorld and, now, Husky Energy’s wellhead platform offshore oil construction project. — Telegram file photo
The port of Argentia is home to the eastern Newfoundland stop for the Marine Atlantic ferry service, the Canadian Coast Guard, industrial service companies like MetalWorld and, now, Husky Energy’s wellhead platform offshore oil construction project. — Telegram file photo

PLACENTIA, NL — Husky Energy is proceeding full speed ahead with a major extension to the White Rose oilfield, and that's big news for Placentia and the surrounding area.

Two and a half years after the company announced it was delaying the project in response to tumbling oil prices, the time is apparently right for Husky to start work on the project, which will create hundreds of job and generate billions of dollars for the province through taxes and royalties.

Chris Newhook, left, and Eugene Collins.

For people in the Placentia area, all eyes will be on activity at the port in Argentia, where a concrete gravity structure will be built. That will tie onto the Sea Rose FPSO to pump additional product from the existing oil field. Construction is set to begin in the fourth quarter of this year, according to a Husky Energy news release.

"We don't get too many mega projects knocking at the door," Chris Newhook, acting CEO for Port of Argentia, told The Compass Tuesday. "We see so many benefits for our community, first-of-all in terms of employment and business opportunities, and second-of-all as the port authority and the property authority, the ability to showcase this tremendous asset that we have here in Argentia for these types of things."

Indeed, the business community is hungry to reap the rewards from economic spinoffs linked to the project, which will see a new oil platform up and running by 2022. Eugene Collins represents many of those local businesses as the executive director of the Placentia Area Chamber of Commerce.

"The spinoff effect is always a consideration, and I'm sure that our local businesses are going to be in a position to take advantage of any opportunities that arise," he told The Compass. "We represent the big guys and the small guys, so we'd like to see everybody certainly take advantage."

Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr.

Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. likewise is pleased to see the project is back on track.

"The direct and indirect economic impacts associated with this project will provide many positive benefits to our community," he said in a news release, adding the town is encouraged to see Husky will hold supplier development information sessions devoted to procurement opportunities.

Since the White Rose extension was first announced in 2013, employment projections for the project have increased by approximately 72 per cent, according to a provincial government news release.

Placentia remains a notable service centre for communities in the surrounding area, though its population has dwindled over the last two decades. The 1996 Canadian census placed the town's population at just over 5,000. 20 years later, that figure has dipped just below 3,500, representing a 30 per cent decline.

"Guaranteed we're going to get some workers coming back to the island and to this area to go to work," said Collins. "I'm sure a lot of the workers that were working in Bull Arm on the Hebron project, they'll be looking to get to Argentia to get some work."

Monday's news that Husky Energy will move ahead immediately with the West White Rose Extension Project was warmly welcomed in Argentia and the surrounding area.

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'Husky moving quickly on $3B White Rose Extension'


Beyond the spinoff for local businesses, Newhook expects the project will give Argentia the chance to prove itself to the world and attract other companies within the offshore or marine sectors.

"This is an Atlantic Canadian project I guess from one perspective, but it's also going to be viewed by the overall oil industry, because there's a new technology that they're looking to take advantage of here with this wellhead platform type of a structure — new to our area anyway, I think it's been done in the past around the world," he said. "So it's going to have a lot of eyes on it, and that's only going to serve us very well."

Newhook said Port of Argentia's role moving forward will be to assist stakeholders in the project and help ensure its success.

"We're hoping to be able to work with all the stakeholders to see a positive outcome from this project so that we can perhaps even consider a second one and a third one in the future as the offshore continues to grow in Newfoundland and Labrador."

editor@cbncompass.ca

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