White Rose extension options still under review as oil reserves grow

The amount of recoverable oil in the White Rose field off Newfoundland and Labrador's east coast continues to grow, but Husky Energy says it continues to assess options for a major extension project.

Husky Energy says extension is a 'key project' in the company's long-term portfolio

This is a schematic diagram of the wellhead platform gravity base structure layout option for the West White Rose extension project. It is shown connected to existing infrastructure in the White Rose field, including the SeaRose FPSO. Husky says it is now re-evaluating this option. (Husky Energy)

The amount of recoverable oil in the White Rose field off Newfoundland and Labrador's east coast continues to grow, but Husky Energy says it continues to assess options for a major extension project.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) announced this week that estimates for the field have increased by 165-million barrels of oil.

The regulator also revealed that Husky Energy's amended development plan for the extension project, which included a fixed wellhead platform concrete gravity base structure, had received conditional approval.

The amended plan was submitted in 2013.

While that's encouraging news, it's not expected to speed up a decision on how Husky Energy and its partners will proceed with the proposed West White Rose extension.

Husky announced late last year it was deferring a final investment decision on the project by one year, and that it was also reconsidering an earlier decision to build a wellhead platform.

The structure was to be built in Argentia.

The decision came amid plummeting oil prices, and the situation remains volatile with prices for Brent crude — a benchmark for Newfoundland and Labrador oil — trading at just over $50 U.S. That's down from over $100 a year ago.

The company now says it is also evaluating the feasibility of a subsea option, which includes subsea wells and a drill centre flowing back to the SeaRose FPSO. The floating, production and storage ship has been operating in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin for the past 10 years.

The wellhead platform is similar to the iconic Hibernia platform, but is smaller and would not include an oil storage option.

Husky had initially planned to begin production in the West White Rose extension in 2018, but the company is now referring to a timeframe of "2020-plus."

The company continues to refer to the extension project as a "key project" in its long-term portfolio.

Husky is the majority owner and operator of the White Rose field, located some 350 kilometres offshore. Suncor Energy and Crown-owned Nalcor Energy also have ownership stakes.

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