About 500 kilometres northeast of St. John’s, in rock that starts about 1,100 metres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, there are hundreds of millions of barrels worth of light, sweet oil.
Geir Richardson is the vice-president of exploration for Statoil.
— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
Statoil announced in August a well drilled at the prospect area known as Bay du Nord, in the Flemish Pass Basin, struck oil. On Thursday, the company announced its first estimate of just how much.
The oil company says the find is between 300 million and 600 million barrels recoverable. Its drilling partner Husky Energy (with 35 per cent interest) pegged the number at 400 million in its own announcement.
The difference in the numbers was attributed by a representative for Husky to regulatory requirements in where the companies were reporting, rather than any difference of opinion. The numbers come after the completion of a sidetrack from the well, providing more information on the find.
Both companies have trumpeted the news, calling it a landmark for oil exploration offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.
“This is Statoil’s biggest oil discovery outside Norway ever,” said Geir Richardsen, vice-president of exploration for Statoil Canada, in an interview at the company’s offices in downtown St. John’s.
“I believe it’s very important for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but it’s also pretty important for us as a company. It is a milestone in our development as an international company,” he said. “Great news.”
Along with Bay du Nord, Statoil has a discovery at its Mizzen prospect, about 20 kilometres away and estimated at 100 million to 200 million barrels. The company has also discovered oil at Harpoon, about 10 kilometres from Bay du Nord. A first estimate on the Harpoon discovery has yet to be determined.
“Cumulatively, these three Flemish Pass discoveries to date are significant,” said Asim Ghosh, CEO of Husky Energy, who spoke with The Telegram from Calgary.
Ghosh said the finds are collectively proving a hypothesis held by staff with Statoil and Husky of a hydrocarbon system in the ground beneath the deep waters of the Flemish Pass.
The find does not mean an offshore oil development will happen tomorrow, or even in the next decade. Statoil has promised further exploration and delineation work at Bay du Nord and has stated a producing development in the Flemish Pass may come post-2020.
This is a corrected version