The recent name change by the Yukon-based oil company from Northern Cross to Chance Oil and Gas will not impact its $2.2 billion lawsuit against the Yukon government, the company says.
The suit, launched April 4, is over what Chance calls a moratorium on fracking in the Eagle Plains Basin. The government has said it only wants to allow fracking developments in the the Liard Basin.
“The lawsuit and the name change are separate issues,” said company president Richard Wyman. “The only thing that’s changed is the name. But in the last 10 months there have been some changes here.”
Wyman said these changes were “triggered” by the departure of the company’s majority shareholder, China National Offshore Oil Corporation. CNOOC pulled out of Northern Cross in October 2016, which forced the company to restructure, said Wymann.
“They sold out — now the company is 100 per cent Canadian-owned and directed,” he said.
Chance will be focusing on smaller-scale projects in “geological settings where fracking doesn’t need to be used,” said Wymann.
“(CNOOC) did not really express much interest in the kinds of operations in the geological areas I’ve described. They preferred operations where (fracking could be used),” he said. “Chance is small enough that we don’t need shale operations to work for us.”
Wyman said what he calls the moratorium on fracking in the Eagle Plains Basin has made this kind of change necessary.
“Until such time as the moratorium is lifted, there will be no hydraulic fracking by us,” he said.
Chance will invest in small-scale projects spread over longer periods of time, to encourage the participation of local business, he said, in order to financially benefit local communities.
“There have been changes in the way we’ve been organizing ourselves so there will be more obvious and clear lines of sight in our engagement with communities and First Nations,” he said.
“There is a much stronger willingness to establish benefits sharing by people within the Yukon, especially First Nations when activities take place in their traditional territories.”
These smaller scale projects will also have a “smaller environmental impact,” Wyman said.
The name, Chance, is derived from the name of a creek which flows into the Whitestone River and then joins the Porcupine River. The creek drains north by northwest from the company’s Eagle Plains Basin exploration site. The name is also influenced by the name of a discovery license issued in the 1980s, after oil was discovered in the Chance Sandstone in the 1960s, Wyman said.
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