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Province promotes drilling with new oil estimates

Plots set for bids in an upcoming exploration licence round hold anywhere from 9.5 billion to, at a 10 per cent chance, 18.4 billion barrels of oil in place, according to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A large group was at the Geo Centre to hear Premier Paul Davis speak. Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

At an average 12 billion, "That's about seven Hibernias, to put it in perspective," said Premier Paul Davis, announcing the totals at a press conference at the Johnson Geo Centre in St. John's at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

To get to the numbers, early exploration work — specifically 2D seismic data collected under Nalcor Energy — has been paired with core data and well logs from past work by private oil companies and run through advanced models under consultant BeicipFranlab.

The modelling also suggests anywhere from 63 trillion to 191 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The estimated amounts are spread over 11 plots of land companies will be asked to bid on for exploration rights come November. They cover less than two per cent of the province's offshore area.

The methodology behind the numbers being released today is also being provided directly to potential bidders and online, on Crown corporation Nalcor Energy's site.

The areas set for bidding make up what is roughly a horseshoe around existing finds by Statoil and Husky Energy in the Flemish Pass Basin.

The oil potential sits at a water depth of 1,000-2,500 metres, but this is the first time this type of oil-in-place estimate has been released before exploration licence bidding.

The plan, the premier and Nalcor representatives say, is to continue to produce similar information in advance of licensing.

In his address, Davis also gave a nod to plans for a new offshore royalty regime, promising it will be fair.

He also said there will be no more giveaways. "And on that, there will be no debate," he said.

"We are destined to be a global energy giant."

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