Statoil began the next phase of the Bay du Nord project this week, starting seismic surveys to get a better handle on three of its discoveries in the Flemish Pass.

'Given these two data, the seismic and the wells, we can be more precise about the volumes, which is our ultimate goal, of course.' - Geir Richardsen 

Statoil has estimated there are between 300 and 600 million barrels of recoverable oil in the frontier field, which is located about 500 kilometres northeast of St. John's. 

The seismic survey coincidentally coincides with the annual NOIA (Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association) conference in St. John's, which is the largest offshore conference in Canada.

In June 2013, Statoil found oil at its Harpoon prospect, about 10 kilometres from Bay du Nord. In 2009, Statoil discovered oil at Mizzen, 10 kilometres from the Harpoon well.

The seismic vessel Columbus, which was docked in St. John's harbour last week, is in the Flemish Pass.

Statoil's lead for Canadian exploration, Geir Richardsen, said technology has improved — and the vessel will help give the company a better idea of the value of their discovery and the best position for drilling wells.

"It is one of the steps in getting to understand the Bay du Nord area better," he told CBC. 

Geir Richardsen

Geir Richardsen is Statoil's lead for Canadian exploration. (CBC)

"The other important tool is of course, the drilling of the wells which will start in September. Given these two data, the seismic and the wells, we can be more precise about the volumes, which is our ultimate goal, of course." 

Richardsen said this work represents a new frontier for the industry.

"It's a logistical challenge you have to manage," said Richardsen.

"It's a long two hour flight out to the vessel. We've done that in several seasons and we'll do it again. Good planning, then you can manage this." 

Once the seismic work is done, Statoil will have a better idea of what it is dealing with, and how it will move ahead with the project.

Statoil estimates the seismic work will take between 50 to 60 days to complete.