Summary Continued

We will answer the following questions: What has happened, in whose interests, why, and with which implications? How is power exercised and by which means? How important is the macro global environment to local action? How is policy constructed and implemented? How and why does implementation differ from policy and plans?

The research is important theoretically because it provides a critical case study of the processes of power in a resource dependent periphery and thus should elucidate the possibilities of effective local action in such contexts. We hope to fill a serious gap in knowledge because the history of oil development in Newfoundland and Labrador from 1963 to the present has yet to be written and little independent social science research has been published on it since the 1980s. The oil and gas industry is now a vital part of the provincial economy, but it is and has been controversial. Issues of public concern include the amount and destination of royalties and taxes, the kinds of production technology to adopt, safety of workers (especially following the Ocean Ranger disaster of 1982), unionization of the labour force, degree of centralization of economic benefits, use of local labour and service companies, as well as possible environmental and social impacts. Public policy is important in relation to these issues and so is the institutional structure of regulation, both provincially and federally. 

In the program of research we are investigating all these matters by examining documentary evidence and conducting oral history interviews (which will also deal with contemporary issues). The documentary analysis covers the various news media, popular and trade journals, websites and records in public archives. These sources include documents from provincial departments concerned with the industry and records of various organizations such as the Petroleum Directorate and the Canada Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board. Interviews with key informants provide complementary evidence. Over the course of the project, we plan to interview management, workers, and their families in both production and service sectors of the oil industry, as well as regulators and other political figures connected to oil development. Furthermore, we will interview members of organizations that represent and criticize the oil industry. Our main purpose is to understand not only how the industry has developed, but the key areas in which respondents feel the industry had the potential to have had a more positive impact on the province.

This research should interest a wide range of scholars and the general public: those concerned with globalization, natural resource development, multi-national companies, state policy, environmental issues, regional development, and power relations, as well as local area specialists.