Scotian Basin Exploration Drilling Project

BP Canada Energy Group ULC (BP Canada) was issued Exploration Licences 2431, 2432, 2433, 2434 in early 2013. In the summer of 2014, BP Canada received authorization from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) to conduct a 3D Wide Azimuth seismic survey over this area. BP Canada acquired data over an area of approximately 7,752 km2 in water depths from approximately 100m-4000m.

Currently, BP Canada is proposing a one-well exploration program. The well is approximately 330 kilomoetres from Halifax in approximately 2,800 metres of water depth. The CNSOPB began reviewing information submitted in support of the required authorization in April 2017, with BP Canada officially submitting an application on September 21, 2017. Refer to map.

An Environmental Assessment (EA) of BP Canada’s Scotian Basin Exploration Drilling Project was conducted by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada released the Decision Statement on February 1, 2018 indicating that the Designated Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, and the project may proceed. The EA considers the drilling of up to seven exploration wells in total. Information pertaining to the EA may be found here.

After a rigorous document review and application process, the CNSOPB issued an authorization to commence drilling, along with an Approval to Drill a Well, to BP Canada on April 21, 2018.  BP Canada plans to begin drilling the well (Aspy D-11) using the Seadrill West Aquarius, a semi-submersible offshore drilling unit that is suited to the North Atlantic environment and deep-water depths. 

In April 2017, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board reviewed and approved an application from BP Canada Energy Group ULC (BP Canada), Interest Representative for ELs 2431, 2432, 2433, and 2434, to enter into a consolidation agreement to consolidate these four ELs.

As per the conditions outlined in the June 2017 agreement, the effective date of the consolidated EL will be the spud date for the first validation well on one of the four ELs. A validation well is a term used to describe the first well drilled on an EL.

With BP Canada having spudded their well on April 22, 2018, consolidated EL 2434R is in effect. This means that the interior boundaries of the four ELs are now merged into one, with the outer boundary remaining the same.

Prior to drilling any subsequent wells, BP Canada would be required to obtain a new Operations Authorization for each drilling program and Approval to Drill a Well for each individual well. BP Canada has not filed any applications with the CNSOPB for future wells at this time. Should any future wells be proposed, information will be posted under the Latest News section on our website.

What is Exploration Drilling?

Offshore exploration drilling is when oil and gas operators use a specialized drilling rig to drill a well below the seafloor in search of oil or natural gas. Geologists working for oil and gas operators study seismic data that provides an image of the rock layers beneath the seafloor to see if there are specific areas that have the potential to contain oil or gas. If such areas are identified, an operator may decide to drill one or more exploration wells to confirm if oil or gas is present and, if so, the amount of oil or gas.

The likelihood of an exploration well encountering commercial quantities of oil or gas depends on the knowledge an operator has about the geology of the area. With the exception of the area around Sable Island, the other regions in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore have only a limited number of exploration wells drilled. As a result, the geology of these other regions is not as well understood which makes it more challenging to find oil or gas when drilling an exploration well.

Geologists that have studied the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore believe that commercial quantities of oil and gas are present in a number of areas. However, several exploratory wells may have to be drilled in order to determine if this is true.

Since exploration drilling began in the Canada-Nova Scotia offshore area in 1967, 129 exploration wells have been drilled, resulting in 23 significant oil and gas discoveries. Most of these discoveries are located in shallow water (<100m water depth) and within 50 km of Sable Island. Eight of these 23 significant discoveries progressed to production. Two of these discoveries have already been produced (Cohasset/Panuke Project) and the other six discoveries are currently on production as part of the Sable Offshore Energy Project and the Deep Panuke Offshore Gas Development Project.

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