On budget day in March, Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady said the soon-to-be stand-alone oil and gas Crown corporation had yet to be named, despite work on the name beginning at least 3 ½ months previously.
Documents released through access to information show Coady and Nalcor Oil and Gas executive Jim Keating exchanged emails on Jan. 16 about new names for the corporation, but 3 1/2 months later on budget day, there was nothing to show for it.
The documents reveal a few guiding principles for the new name.
The government wants to avoid any derivatives of Nalcor in the new name, in order to “refresh” the oil and gas division.
On budget day, Coady said the rebranding was about maximizing the potential of the oil and gas division of Nalcor, insisting it wasn’t just a rebrand to get the oil and gas division away from the Muskrat Falls boondoggle.
The name will ideally reflect “simplicity, authenticity, relevance, and uniqueness,” while being “short, distinctive, and memorable.”
In the emails, Keating suggested working on the rebrand in-house.
“It would be great to get a name and logo without spending any money,” Keating wrote.
Briefing notes from budget-day interviews with Coady show that even though plans for the split had been in the works since at least January, details are sketchy.
When it comes to the Bull Arm Site Corp., “consideration will be made” to include the Bull Arm site in the new corporation.
It’s even unclear from the documents how oil and gas revenues will come back into provincial coffers.
“This will be a future decision as to how revenues will flow back to the province.”
The documents say the new corporation will maintain its equity stakes in oil and gas projects (5 per cent in Hibernia, 10 per cent in White Rose, and 4.9 per cent in Hebron).
There are no plans to sell the Lower Churchill Project as part of the Nalcor shift, according to the documents.
Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall also sent an email to Nalcor staff members on budget day, though he admitted at the time that he didn’t have much information about the move to cut out a large portion of the Crown corporation he heads.
“This decision brings sharper focus to our utility business,” Marshall wrote.
“I’m sharing with you today the information I have at this time. As we continue to learn more about how these changes will take place, I will update employees accordingly.”
To date, no new information about how the new oil and gas Crown corporation will operate, who the executive team will be or even the name.
The documents also reveal a bit about the media strategy of the unveiling of the “plans.”
The Department of Natural Resources contacted Newfoundland and Labrador Employers Council head Richard Alexander about the move.
“The minister will be using the info (attributed to you) in her speaking points for the House and media,” wrote Department of Natural Resources director of communications Diana Quinton.
Alexander turned down the request, saying, “we generally let Noia take the lead on oil and gas.”
A date for a full announcement on plans for the new Crown corporation has yet to be set.