After lengthy delays the Deep Panuke field is one step closer to bringing natural gas to market.

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board issued an authorization that lets Encana Corporation to start shipping natural gas from its reservoir to an offshore production centre. Then it can be sent to market.

The CNSOPB said the facilities are fit.

The Deep Panuke field was supposed to be supplying gas to market by the end of June.The natural gas production facility is more than two years late and is hundreds of millions of dollars over the original forecast.

The Deep Panuke project received regulatory approval in 2007 and was initially supposed to go into production by late 2010.

The platform was in the process of final commissioning when an electrical fire broke out in January and 46 people were flown back to shore as a precautionary measure.

The gas field is about 250 kilometres southeast of Halifax on the Scotia shelf.