Nalcor Energy is excited about the discovery of three new deep-water basins in the Labrador Sea — basins that could contain oil.

President Ed Martin brought the big news to the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association's annual general meeting Thursday. He said seismic and satellite surveys reveal the new basins. 

Martin said the preliminary work is done, now the only way to know for sure is to drill.

"We have not discovered oil, we have not discovered gas," said Martin. "What we have done is discovered the most important piece to move into the next step, which is we've proven the existence of structures that have a reasonably high probability that they could hold those kinds of hydrocarbons. These are big basins, big potential."

Getting data to oil companies

Martin said the next step is to get the data to oil companies. He added that several have already shown interest.

"Our job now is to find as many companies in the world as possible, get this data in their hands," said Martin. "Once they see it, have a scheduled sale so that not only one or two are in bidding, but we hopefully can get eight, 10 or 12 companies bidding on this prospective land."

NOIA president Bob Cadigan says the news has created quite a buzz in the industry.

"It's a game changer," said Cadigan. "It quadruples the size of the prospective areas we have offshore."

Potential in the long-term

Cadigan said the discovery could lead to big things.

"I think for a lot of our members they're just starting to really realize now how much more potential this will give us in the long-term," said Cadigan. "So if you think about it we have three, four with Hebron, producing operations in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin — that's just one basin. We've discovered four new ones off the coast of Labrador. So it's really important."

But collecting the data has not been cheap - costing the provincial government between $26 and $30 million.

Martin said Nalcor will spend five million more to further interpret the data. He plans to give an update at the NOIA conference sometime this summer.