Exploration data dominates conference

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Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Province receives kudos from industry for offshore licensing initiatives

Premier Kathy Dunderdale opened Noia’s annual conference with a speech to delegates at the St. John’s Convention Centre Tuesday. Joining her were (from left) Malcolm Maclean, senior vice-president, Atlantic region, Husky Energy; Francois Durvye, chief economist, Schlumberger; Mike Critch, chairman, Noia 2013 Conference; and Doug Youden, vice-president, Upstream Solutions. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Representatives from oil companies active offshore Newfoundland and Labrador applauded recent actions of the provincial government during interviews at the Noia conference Tuesday, while also offering updates on their own activities offshore.

Looking generally at the industry, the focus fell to the early exploration initiatives of Nalcor Energy and the government’s push to change the offshore licensing process, as emphasized in an opening address by Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

The change would give more time for oil companies to evaluate available data on an area and consider whether or not they want to bid on an exploration licence.

“I think it’s a good initiative in that we’re gathering more and more data all the time, par-

ticularly 3-D seis­mic data. It takes months to process and interpret it,” said Malcolm Mac­lean, senior vice-president for Husky Energy in the Atlantic region.

“As the premier said, the time scales have really become too short for people to do a thorough, technical job of evaluating the data. So I think it’s a very positive initiative from the government.”

Meanwhile, Maclean said, Husky is busy with the White Rose extension work, with the $1.2-billion South White Rose project recently approv­ed by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB).

Oil production is expected from the subsea extension in 2014.

The company has yet to make a decision on a West White Rose extension — a project where the option to construct a wellhead platform in Argentia has been floated. Maclean said he expected Husky’s plans for the development would be made known within months.

Husky maintains an active exploration schedule as well and continues to look at ways to monetize its gas resources, he said.

Questions for Atle Aadland, vice-president of Statoil offshore, focused on that company’s exploration plans.

“You never know what will happen in the next days, the next weeks and the next months and that is why exploring offshore Newfoundland is so exciting,” he said while at the podium in the St. John’s Convention Centre.

Aadland was at the conference a year ago, when he announced a significant discovery at the company’s Mizzen prospect in the Flemish Pass Basin. The company is still  firming up its understanding of the resource.

Looking out

The company is looking to go “farther, deeper and colder” offshore, Aadland said, highlighting a recent $5-million investment for a new, local Arctic research and development centre.

“We are making long-term investments because of the potential offshore,” he said.

For Suncor Energy’s vice-president for the East Coast, Sandy Martin, work completed on the Terra Nova FPSO this past year was important to highlight.

There was also the announcement by the CNLOPB in April of an improved total resource estimate for Terra Nova. Proven and probable oil reserves were increased by 87 million barrels, from 419 million barrels to 506 million barrels.

Still not the size of Hibernia, but “all in all, there’s a lot of upside in Terra Nova,” he said.

Updates on operations of ExxonMobil and Chevron are expected before the conference wraps up Thursday.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Nalcor Energy, Husky Energy Statoil Convention Centre.Aadland Suncor Energy Terra Nova FPSO ExxonMobil

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic, White Rose Argentia Terra Nova Arctic East Coast

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