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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Canadian Petroleum Heritage
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Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador each have their own history of oil and gas development. The beginnings of the oil industry in Newfoundland started with Mr. Parson skimming a pond for oil in 1812. At that time, there was little interest since Great Britain owned the island and ran it as fishing out-port. After independence in 1855, Newfoundland gained control of the abundant mineral resources. Exploration began in 1864 and the first well was drilled in 1867 at Parson’s Pond. This was also the site for the first refinery in the province built between 1907 and 1909. Development was slow due to the many political and social upheavals in Newfoundland and Labrador. The two World Wars had an enormous impact economically, which left little resources to explore for oil and gas. When Newfoundland, and by extension Labrador,  joined the Dominion of Canada in 1949, the situation was slow to improve. The government of Canada relocated people from "isolated" areas, thereby abandoning many small towns. In the 1950s and early 1960s, Canadian and US researchers studied the area and found a thick sedimentary wedge offshore, which indicated the strong possibility of hydrocarbons. They were right. Until 1977, when exploration activity was ceased for a year by the provincial government, massive gas and oilfields were discovered off the coast of Labrador. Momentum picked up again with the Hibernia field development plan in 1980. Since then, offshore drilling expeditions continue to dominate the oil industry, as new gas discoveries lead to a land rush for many companies on shore. The offshore Hibernia (1997) and Terra Nova (2002) projects were pivotal to the continued growth of the industry.

Provincial Website for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Natural Resources: http://www.nr.gov.nl.ca/nr/


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