WWF Canada challenges validity of Shell’s exploration permits

World Wildlife Fund Canada, the environment conservation organization, has taken legal action challenging validity of some Shell’s offshore exploration permits in Canada.

WWF-Canada is aiming to have Shell’s Lancaster Sound oil and gas exploration permits declared expired. The conservation group claims that the permits issued more than four decades ago, are now expired “and therefore invalid.”

According to the available data, Shell is not conducting any activity in the area at the moment.

Prior to taking the legal action, WWF claims it had contacted the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs seeking clarification on the status permits in question, and a confirmation that the permits had expired.

Although staff from the Ministry contacted the applicant (WWF) to discuss the matter informally, they did not clarify the status of the permits, WWF said, adding that the discussions with the Ministry staff continued throughout February 2016 but the Ministry still did not explain its position on the validity of Shell’s permits.

Proposed conservation area

WWF Canada claims that the permits in question are an obstacle to conservation efforts striving to finalize „the long-awaited“ Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area.

According to WWF Canada, the proposed National Marine Conservation Area has been under consideration by the federal government since the early 1970s.

“Lancaster Sound is one of the richest marine mammal areas on earth and is home to narwhals, belugas, bowhead whales, ringed seals, harp seals and walruses. The area also harbours one of the highest densities of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic and provides important breeding and feeding habitat for seabirds, including thick-billed murres, black-legged kittiwakes, ivory gulls and northern fulmars,” WWF Canada said.

The environmental protection organization is now asking the court to confirm the expiry of the Shell oil and gas exploration permits on the border of the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area and to order an update of registry records under the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to indicate the expiry of those permits.

In an e-mail sent to Offshore Energy Today, a Shell spokesman said: “We are aware of a court application filed by World Wildlife Fund Canada and are currently assessing next steps.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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