Small fields hold promise off Newfoundland

Production offshore Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to drop off dramatically around 2010 or 2011.

Judy Maksoud
International Editor

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland and Labrador -- Production offshore Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to drop off dramatically around 2010 or 2011. To offset decline, small fields need to be developed between 2007 and 2017, a timeframe Wayne Chipman, manager of resource development at the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board calls, "the window of opportunity."

Chipman told participants at the Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association meeting on June 21 that the province has a number of good opportunities for small field development.

The most significant opportunities are fields that are within 50 km (31 mi) radius of the three producing fields in the Jeanne d'Arc basin in the Grand Banks: Hibernia, Terra Nova, and White Rose. The North Amethyst discovery at White Rose is the first satellite field tie-in opportunity, Chipman said. "There are some opportunities at Hibernia and limited opportunity at Terra Nova," he said.

Chipman listed some of the oil fields that could be developed, including Ben Nevis, West Ben Nevis, West Bonne Bay, and Mara, near Hibernia.

Gas field development could also be lucrative, Chapman said, but there are some obstacles. Though estimates place the province's reserves at 10 tcf, most gas in the Grand Banks is associated with oil. Production plans need to take into account the impact gas production will have on oil recover, he said.

Chipman said there are concerns that need to be considered before the province moves ahead with gas development:

  • Environment
  • Gas utilization in oil fields
  • Transportation/exploitation technology
  • Resource thresholds.

    On the positive side, Chipman said, "Our reservoirs are not complex, and the gas is high quality."

    Chipman believes there are a lot of opportunities for small field developments, noting that geological studies indicate there is much more oil and gas remaining to be discovered in the regions.

    "We are blessed," Chipman said. "We are surrounded not only by water, but by basins. We have more opportunities today than we had yesterday and fewer opportunities than we will tomorrow."


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