Canada: BHP, Suncor offshore drilling proposals under assessment

Canadian authorities have begun environmental assessments for two offshore exploration projects proposed by BHP Billiton and Suncor, respectively.

Illustration only: A semi-submersible drilling rig. Image by Ronnie Robertson/Flick, Shared under CC BY-SA 2.0 license
Illustration only: A semi-submersible drilling rig. Image by Ronnie Robertson/Flickr, Shared under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

BHP is proposing to drill exploration wells within two offshore exploration licenses in the Orphan Basin. These are located 325 kilometers northeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador in the Atlantic Ocean in exploration licenses 1157 and 1158.

The project would involve drilling up to 20 wells in total (with between one and ten wells on either, or both, exploration licenses).

BHP, based in Australia, has said that drilling operations could begin as early as 2021 pending the receipt of required regulatory and corporate approvals, the availability of suitable drilling units, the identification of appropriate drilling targets, and other technical, logistical and commercial considerations.

BHP has said that the wells may be drilled using either a harsh environment semisubmersible drilling unit or a harsh environment drillship

As for Suncor, the company is proposing to conduct the Tilt Cove exploration drilling project within an offshore exploration license in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin, located approximately 300 kilometers southeast of St. John’s.

Suncor, on behalf of its partners Equinor and Husky, is proposing an exploration drilling program, that may include drilling up to 12 wells over the term of the offshore license (2019 to 2028). Assuming regulatory approval, the start of drilling would occur in July 2021, using either a jack-up rig or a semi-submersible drilling unit. Subsequent wells will be considered based on the results of the first well.

These projects are two of seven exploration drilling projects in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area currently undergoing federal environmental assessments, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said.

Offshore Energy Today Staff


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