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CNLOPB pays for chair Roger Grimes' flights from South Carolina to St. John's for some meetings

Former Liberal premier Roger Grimes.
Former Liberal premier Roger Grimes. - SaltWire File Photo
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

CNLOPB chair Roger Grimes flies from South Carolina to St. John’s for monthly board meetings, paid for by the offshore regulatory board. 

Grimes, who was premier of Newfoundland and Labrador from 2001-03, was first appointed to the board in April 2018 and was made chair of the board effective July 8. 

A recent disclosure from the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board showed a $1,753 charge for travel from Myrtle Beach to St. John’s to attend the June board meeting. 

Grimes says he lives half the year in South Carolina, typically from January to June, and has requested in-person meetings for all scheduled board members during his time as chair.

“It’s a monthly meeting mandated by law. It’s much more conducive for us to conduct our business if we can get the bodies in the room, rather than try to do it by conference calls or FaceTime and so on,” Grimes said in an interview.  

“We’re dealing with a lot of detailed, technical issues on a monthly basis.”

Grimes notes some emergency meetings, like one called after the November 2018 oil spill at the SeaRose FPSO, are handled via distance, with members calling in or using Skype to participate. 

“In the interviewing process they didn’t ask where you resided and so on. They knew full well that I resided basically half the year outside the province,” he said.

In its annual report filed in the House of Assembly earlier this month, the board reported $44,400 in travel expenses for the fiscal year ending on March 31. Not all of that is travel for board meetings. For example, board member Wesley Foote charged $6,874 for two weeks of travel on CNLOPB business for Indigenous engagement sessions, as is typical for board business.

The CNLOPB billed $106,818 in travel expenses in its overall operations in 2018-19.

The CNLOPB receives two operating grants from the provincial and federal governments to do its business, each amounting to $9.5 million. Much of those funds are recovered from the oil and gas industry, with the cost recoveries then refunded to both levels of government. 

The board received about $800,000 more money to do its work in 2018-19 than it did in 2017-18. 

Meanwhile, the CNLOPB will get new office space in the near future, having completed a request for proposals for new space in December 2018. The report stated negotiations with one office holder were still underway as of March 31.

Elsewhere in the report, the CNLOPB gives details about how much is being spent by oil and gas companies in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore. 

In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the Hibernia Management and Development Co. spent $607 million and employed 1,457 people directly. Of those employees, 91 per cent are Newfoundland and Labrador residents.

Suncor Energy spent $540 million in 2018-19, with 1,125 people directly employed, 89 per cent of whom are from this province. 

Husky Energy spent $1.37 billion in 2018-19, employing 3,135 people, 65 per cent of whom are from Newfoundland and Labrador. 

ExxonMobil spent $701 million in the province’s offshore in 2018-19, employing 1,268 people, 91 per cent of whom are from this province. 

david.maher@thetelegram.com

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