Shell Canada could begin exploratory drilling for oil in the Shelburne Basin as early as this year.

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In 2013 Shell pegged the project's total price tag at $970 million. (CBC)

Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's environment minister, has released her environmental assessment, saying the project does not pose a significant environmental threat.

The company has a four-year window to drill beginning in 2015.

The basin is about 200 kilometers from Nova Scotia's southwest coast.

In 2013 Shell pegged the project's total price tag at $970 million.

The federal government says it may require further authorization from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.