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Shell Canada to release exploratory permits off B.C. coast

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CALGARY, A.B. – Shell Canada announced today that it will be voluntarily releasing 50,000 square kilometres of exploratory permits off the B.C. coast in order to support marine conservation efforts.

The acreage covers an area more than one and a half times the size of Vancouver Island and is located in three separate locations in the Queen Charlotte and Tofino basins.

Shell’s permit area, which has been under a Federal moratorium since 1972, overlaps with about one-third of the newly-designated Scott Islands National Wildlife Area off the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

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“Releasing these exploration permits can help protect spectacular and environmentally rich areas off Canada’s West Coast where we have no plans to explore for oil and gas,” said Shell Canada President and Country Chair, Michael Crothers. “We saw an opportunity to support marine protection as part of our ongoing efforts to find pragmatic ways to contribute to conservation in Canada while maintaining our robust global exploration portfolio.”

The company said that drilling activities it completed in the two basins before the 1972 moratorium had resulted in many oil and gas shows, indicating the potential for hydrocarbon resources in both basins.

Given the ongoing moratorium, Shell said that it plans to formally release the permits and work with the federal government on potential investments to support marine conservation efforts in consultation with Indigenous Peoples and environmental groups.

The company also announced that it will seek advice from the Nature Conservancy of Canada to determine how releasing these permits might achieve the most effective conservation outcomes.

“Effective protection of our coasts, oceans and wildlife requires strong partnerships and collaborative efforts on all sides,” said Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. “Our government is pleased to be working with First Nations partners, the Government of British Columbia and Shell to ensure the Scott Islands remain a thriving hub of biodiversity and marine life for generations to come.”

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