“What we’re seeing is early evidence for the potential for both gas and oil phases in the slope and deep water off Labrador,” said Nalcor Energy manager of exploration Richard Wright, who gave a detailed presentation on the potential resource that is up for bidding this fall, at the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (Noia) conference on Wednesday.
“That’s been derived through seismic data, seabed coring data and also detailed geochemistry work linking some of the signatures to areas in west Greenland where there are proven oil source rocks.”
Unlike the Flemish Pass Basin, where discoveries were proven at nearby Mizzen and Bay de Nord, the data coming from the Labrador South exploration area more closely resembles that from the West Orphan Basin and its potentially massive Cape Freels area.
“The similar seismic signatures could be suggestive of similar properties,” Wright said.
How lucrative could the Labrador south deposit be?
Wright said it’s much too early to predict and that more information should become available by the third quarter of this year when Paris, France-based Beicip Franlab completes the resource assessment.
“Right now we have a very detailed base-modelling process underway, which is basically looking at all the rock units that were deposited in the slope and deep water off Labrador, what their temperatures look like, what type of oil and/or gas can be generated from those rocks and where it would be collected.
“When that computationally intense process finishes, we’ll have a much better perspective on potential resources for both gas and oil in that area.”
As for whether or not the waters off Labrador are a hospitable place to drill for oil and gas, Wright says Nalcor’s metocean study in association with C-Core looking at ice, wind, waves and iceberg conditions indicate the risks drop off in the areas being explored and are similar to conditions in the West Orphan and Flemish Pass.
“The big question is not necessarily going to be operability in the licence round, it’s logisitcs getting back and forth to the shoreline,” Wright said. “With helicopters you can overfly the ice. However, for shipping, for certain months of the year you’d have to come out around the ice from the south.”
During the summer months, Nalcor Energy will have Norwegian survey duo TGS and PGS back to conduct some 3-D seismic mapping of the East Orphan Basin, an area that covers 9,000 square kilometres.
They’ll also undertake a seabed coring project with Fugro GeoSurveys Inc that will yield more than 100 cores.
Wright said the province has a long way to go in establishing a better understanding and appreciation of the province’s offshore potential that will play a fundamental role in what the industry’s long-term future looks like here.
The three licence-round surveys conducted to date represent merely six per cent of the basins where potential for exploration exists, but that work has already resulted in helping the province compete at a time when the market for oil and gas is down globally, Wright said.
“It’s very important that we undertake this early geoscience work so we have a really good perspective of what we have in these frontier areas and then can deliver that to the global industry so they can effectively allocate dollars.”