Nfld. & Labrador

Nalcor hopes today's investments could lead to tomorrow's oil discoveries

Nalcor Energy is continuing work to gather more scientific information about Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore — work the Crown-owned energy corporation hopes will pay off in the long term.

Crown-owned energy corporation sinking millions into data acquisition for N.L. offshore

Richard Wright, Nalcor's manager of exploration, answers questions from reporters at the 2015 NOIA conference in St. John's. (CBC)

Nalcor Energy is continuing work to gather more scientific information about Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore — work the Crown-owned energy corporation hopes will pay off in the long term.

"The right investments in understanding the prospectivity today will enable the future discoveries of tomorrow," Richard Wright, Nalcor's manager of exploration, said in a speech at the NOIA conference in St. John's this week.

Those investments have included seismic surveys and other data-gathering work.

Nalcor is taking a "systematic approach" to front-end data acquisition, Wright told NOIA delegates.

"These are early days in our resource evaluation of Newfoundland and Labrador's frontier basins," he said.

"While we can't control what resources ultimately lie in our basins, we can control how much we learn about what we have."

While we can't control what resources ultimately lie in our basins, we can control how much we learn about what we have.- Richard Wright, Nalcor's manager of exploration

Essentially, the Crown-owned energy corporation is working to reduce costs for industry players up front, in the hopes of generating interest in areas that could see new discoveries down the road.

Nalcor says it has spent $39.5 million on offshore exploration programs since 2010. According to the company, those investments have leveraged roughly $150 million of investment from the global oil and gas industry, through the end of 2014.

Last year, Nalcor targeted an additional $12.9 million towards new offshore exploration programs, while raking in $14.3 million in revenue from sales of seismic data.

Metocean study released

At the NOIA conference, Nalcor released the results of the first regional Metocean study for offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.

That study, done in partnership with C-CORE, looked at seven conditions in the province's offshore.

Nalcor Energy says it has spent tens of millions of dollars on offshore exploration programs since 2010. (CBC)
The aim was to better understand those conditions, in order to reduce exploration risk and uncertainty.

The data is being provided to industry players.

And this summer, Nalcor is spearheading a resource assessment of key areas in the Flemish Pass basin area.

Those areas will be opened for bids on exploration rights in November.

The Flemish Pass basin is a new frontier for the province, with recent discoveries by Statoil driving interest in the potential of the area.

Wright says the assessments will be independently verified, and the results will be made available to oil companies before the bidding process begins this fall.    

"Really our goal is to go and assess what the true state of affairs is, based on the science that we have, and then industry will respond accordingly," he explained in an interview.

2014 record exploration bid

Last December, a troika of oil companies submitted a record bid for exploration rights in another area of the Flemish Pass basin.

The partners — ExxonMobil Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy Inc. and ConocoPhillips Canada Resources Corp. —  are sinking $559 million into the rights to a 266,139-hectare parcel in the Flemish Pass.

The parcel is located southwest of recent discoveries by Statoil at Mizzen, Harpoon and Bay du Nord.

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