Shelburne Basin Venture Drilling Project

Overview of the Project

Application Status (last updated Nov 29, 2016)


Current Status

Operations Authorization- Drilling (OA-D)

Authorization Issued

Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) - Cheshire L-97A

Approval Issued

Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) - Cheshire L-97A (sidetrack)

Approval Issued

Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) – Monterey Jack E-43

Approval Issued

Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) – Monterey Jack E-43A (sidetrack)

Approval Issued

An Operations Authorization – Drilling is required prior to the commencement of any work or activity in the Nova Scotia offshore area.

An Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) is required prior to the spudding of a well (i.e. prior to the commencement of actual drilling operations).

The Proposed Project 

Shell Canada Limited (Shell Canada) has been granted an Operations Authorization – Drilling (OA-D) for a deep-water drilling program 250km offshore of Nova Scotia. The initial phase of the proposed program involves drilling two exploratory wells, Cheshire and Monterey Jack, which are located within the Shell Canada exploration licences shown in this map. Shell Canada has been granted an Approval to Drill a Well (ADW) for each well: Cheshire and Monterey Jack. This first phase of this campaign is expected to extend over approximately 11-12 months.

Shell Canada has contracted the Stena IceMAX, a dynamically positioned mobile offshore drilling unit that is suited to the North Atlantic environment and deep-water depths. As per the requirements for a program of this nature, Shell will also have one dedicated Stand-by Vessel, three Offshore Supply Vessels (OSVs), with one of the OSVs acting as a back-up Stand-by Vessel, as well as dedicated Sikorsky S-92 helicopters based at the Project’s Heliport at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. An onshore supply base, including a supply yard, laydown area, and a quay-side mud plant, will be located at the Woodside Supply Base in Dartmouth.

What is Exploration Drilling?

Offshore exploration drilling involves using a specialized drilling rig to penetrate the targeted geological formation(s) that are typically buried several kilometers beneath the seabed in order to determine if economic quantities of oil or natural gas are present. This petroleum exploration technique is referred to as the drilling of an exploration well.  

There have been 127 exploration wells drilled offshore Nova Scotia since the first well was drilled in 1967. To date, there are 23 declared Significant Discoveries offshore Nova Scotia, 8 of which have been declared Commercial Discoveries. This indicates that 23 of the 127 exploration wells or roughly 1 in 5 have encountered a significant accumulation of oil and/or natural gas. Most of these Significant Discoveries are natural gas accumulations. 

All 23 of these Significant Discoveries are located in shallow water (<150 m water depth). Since 1978, 12 deep water exploration wells (>500 m water depth) have been drilled offshore Nova Scotia. While natural gas was detected in some of these deep water wells, oil was not encountered in any of the wells. 

Given the limited number of exploration wells offshore Nova Scotia and the associated geological uncertainties, there is a low probability that an exploration well will encounter commercially viable quantities of hydrocarbons. To date, two exploration wells have been drilled on Shell’s deep water Exploration Licences, neither of which encountered oil or natural gas.

Reference Materials