The Bay du Nord oil field

The Bay du Nord oil field (CA)

Bay du Nord is a project led by Equinor to develop a massive deep-sea offshore oil field outside the Eastern Coast of Canada. Even though Equinor has paused the Bay du Nord project, it has no intention of stopping the search for oil and gas reserves in the area. It is crucial to stop the now-paused project indefinitely before it does irreparable damage to climate and nature. The continuation of fossil fuel dependency will also harm the local population of Newfoundland and Labrador for years to come. Hundreds of youth protested in downtown St. John’s NL last year against the controversial project and for a new economic path instead of oil and gas dependency. 126 organizations based in Canada and locally in Newfoundland and Labrador oppose Bay du Nord. Indigenous communities, whose fisheries could be directly impacted by the project and who do not feel they were adequately consulted, are also continuing their legal challenge of the Canadian government’s decision to approve Bay du Nord in federal court.

Equinor’s Bay du Nord project makes Canadian climate goals unattainable 

The Bay du Nord project is in direct opposition to recommendations from the UN and The International Energy Agency (IEA), who urge us to move away from fossil fuel dependency and pivot towards clean and renewable energy. Therefore, we should stop the search for and production of new oil and gas immediately. The now-delayed Bay du Nord project also stands in stark contrast to the Canadian government’s commitment to reduce the country’s emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. Any new oil and gas development in Canada, no matter how supposedly green, would make these targets unattainable.   

Weak Canadian regulations to protect marine ecosystems  

According to WWF-Canada, Canadian regulations do not require a company to contain a major oil spill within a prescribed time frame. In addition, they do not prevent oil companies from drilling in sensitive marine ecosystems, or in culturally significant or high-risk areas. If something should happen while developing projects in Canada, the question of responsibility will be an overshadowing issue. The operator is only liable if it is found to be at fault, which means that an accident caused by a collision or extreme weather has uncertain liability. In summary, it is a bleak backdrop to an eventual oil spill from the Bay du Nord project.


16% chance of serious oil spills from Bay du Nord say independent researchers 

Equinor’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lacks credibility, according to independent researchers and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The EIS asserts that the risk of major oil spills from the Bay du Nord project is very low (0.00013), but scientists at DFO refute this assumption in their review. In fact, there is a 16% chance of a serious spill. They even go as far as saying that Equinor’s EIS lacks credibility by underestimating the risks of an oil spill. Therefore it should not be “considered a reliable source of information for decision-making processes”.  

Slow response – huge impact 

Equinor estimates that it would take 18 to 36 days to respond to a spill, which includes the installment of a well-capping system. Additionally, it would take up to 115 days to install a relief well. The slow response to an eventual oil spill would allow oil to spill into the Atlantic Ocean and wreak havoc on marine habitats. It is imperative that Equinor takes this threat seriously.  

It will harm the local communities 

The project will not just hurt nature and climate, it is also not a sound investment for the local economy in the Newfoundland and Labrador province. Additionally, it will likely pave the way for new projects in the region. Equinor has much expertise in energy and developing new technologies. Instead of continuing fossil fuel investments, it should use its expertise to make community-based wind power a reality in the province, something there is great potential for. Recently the Provincial and Federal Governments there have done a great deal to encourage wind energy development. 

Bay du Nord; a symbol of Equinor’s hypocrisy on climate action

Demonstrations have been led by several groups in a coordinated effort to create a strong, local opposition to the Bay du Nord project. Though the project was delayed in 2023, Equinor has commissioned a drilling rig to explore for more oil in the area. Continued protest of Equinor’s activity in Canada continues and will persist until the project is stopped once and for all.