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Canada Oil Ruling Pits Provinces

April 2, 2002

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) _ A federal tribunal drew a new border in the waters off eastern Canada on Tuesday, giving the province of Newfoundland and Labrador most of a potential oil and natural gas reserve also sought by neighboring Nova Scotia.

The new boundary through the Gulf of St. Lawrence gives Newfoundland and Labrador 75 percent of the 24,000-square-mile seabed between its southwestern region and northeastern Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia received 16 percent and France got 9 percent.

It represented a compromise among proposals the provinces presented to the tribunal last year.

Nova Scotia proposed a line in the Laurentian Sub-Basin that would have given it almost complete ownership of the area, where some geologists have estimated there could be millions of barrels of oil.

Gordon Balser, the minister responsible for Nova Scotia’s petroleum directorate, said the province would have liked a bigger chunk of the seabed. But he noted that most existing exploration commitments in the region are in Nova Scotia territory anyway.

The dispute involved a boundary drawn between the two provinces in 1964 that the tribunal declared invalid last year because it was never signed.

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