The operator of the Terra Nova field is hopeful the amount of the recoverable oil there will grow, although Suncor Energy is also flagging cost pressures as a possible concern that may hinder future development in the Newfoundland offshore.

“We’ve all heard the old oilfield adage, that big fields tend to get bigger,” Brent Janke, East Coast vice-president at Suncor Energy, said in an address to delegates in St. John's at the annual conference of NOIA, the organization that represents the offshore oil industry.

“What this really means is that over time, and with experience, we either find more oil or we find more ways to extract more of what’s already there.”

Janke said Suncor is working hard to maximize recovery from Terra Nova.

'There is untapped potential for more oil at Terra Nova.' - Brent Janke of Suncor

“There is untapped potential for more oil at Terra Nova.”

Last year, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Petroleum Board revised its estimates for proven and probable oil reserve estimates at Terra Nova upward by 87 million barrels, to 506 million barrels.

According to its website, Suncor estimates Terra Nova’s life-of-field production at approximately 516 million barrels.

Costs ‘key consideration'

But Janke warned that costs will be a “key consideration” in decisions about future development in the Newfoundland offshore.

“Rising development costs may negatively impact ultimate development potential and benefits to the province,” he told delegates.

Janke said producing companies, the supply industry and government must work together to find a “made in Newfoundland and Labrador solution” for Suncor’s aspirations in the province to grow.

He highlighted some of the benefits to accrue to Newfoundland and Labrador since first oil at Terra Nova, including $6 billion in royalties and taxes to the province, and $2.8 billion in local services purchased.