Definitely a cup that’s half-full

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A report just released by the Conference Board might sound a bit dismal for Nova Scotia, but still leaves plenty of room for optimism.

No surprise to anyone following this country’s economy, the resource-rich provinces – particularly those with oil – lead in economic performance. That would be Alberta in first place, followed by Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, all receiving A-plus in the board’s report.

Nova Scotia, along with neighbouring New Brunswick, ranks on the bottom with a grade of D.

Certainly we already know in this province that others benefit hugely from the bounty of energy – and that there’s a spinoff effect for the country in general. But rather than dwell on apparent inequity, we should keep in mind the encouraging words also in the report from the Conference Board. Provinces not necessarily rich in oil must concentrate harder on initiatives that boost labour productivity.

That in a nutshell is the same advice contained in the much-discussed Ivany report – and admittedly easier said than done.

But on the energy front itself, Nova Scotia has potential on the horizon. We’ve already benefited from offshore reserves. And just this week Premier Stephen McNeil said the government plans to fund – $12 million earmarked over four years – analysis of seismic and other geological data provided to oil and gas firms interested in development on the province’s offshore.

In step with that goal, BP Canada announced Tuesday it hopes to have an exploration well by 2017 on the Scotian shelf, 300 kilometres off the southeast shore – depending on whether the seismic work shows promise.

The prospect of this preliminary work, potentially followed by development, is cause for optimism.

Any resource wealth in itself would be a boon to the province in the form of royalties. But even better, meantime, would be some brainstorming on how it could serve to attract industries to a province with newfound energy wealth – boosting productivity as the Conference Board recommends.

Organizations: BP Canada

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan Newfoundland New Brunswick

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