C-NSOPB gives BP the regulatory approval to drill, baby, drill

It’s been a long journey, but BP Canada has been given the go ahead to drill one exploration well in Nova Scotia waters.

The approval to drill a well was announced by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board on Saturday (April 21) in this press release.

The announcement came 11 days after the Board announced BP Canada could bring the West Aquarius drill rig into Nova Scotia waters to start prep work for a planned exploration well approximately 330 kilometres from Halifax.

The well is named Aspy D-11 and will be drilled in approximately 2,800 metres of water depth.

BP acquired the licences it’s drilling on way back in 2012. But it wasn’t until September of 2017 that the company submitted an application to the Board for authorization to drill the deepwater exploration well.

In February, Catherine McKenna, the federal minister for the Department of the Environment and Climate Change, released a decision statement that the drilling program could proceed and was “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

BP will hope to have better luck than Shell Canada had with its Nova Scotia exploration program.

Shell abandoned two exploration wells – Monterey Jack and Cheshire – in 2017.

It can often take several wells before large discoveries of oil are found in the offshore. But Nova Scotia’s oil and gas industry could really use some good news in this area – and the sooner the better.

It’s offshore natural gas fields are on their last legs, and an oil discovery by BP at this well would likely not only convince the company to drill more wells on its Nova Scotia acreage, but see other companies return to grab more exploration licences in future call for bids and poke more holes in the ocean floor.

The Board hasn’t received any bids in its licensing rounds since 2015, when Statoil Canada Ltd. picked up two parcels for $82 million.

If BP can strike oil at Aspy D-11, it could reverse that trend and make Nova Scotia a more desirable exploration location.

Update

On April 23, BP announced on its website in a project update that it had “commenced drilling operations at the Aspy D-11 site” on April 22.

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