CNSOPB Delays Call for Bids

A call for bids for offshore Nova Scotia licenses has been delayed by federal and provincial regulators. The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board gave no reason for its decision to defer the June bids. It is following Newfoundland's announcement in early last month calling off its 2002 offshore land sale. The Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board said a recent boundary decision slicing through several existing licenses, and the shift toward deeper water exploration influenced its decision to delay the sale.

"The Jeanne d'Arc Basin is now relatively mature in terms of exploration, and the industry focus is shifting towards deeper waters and other basins at the same time as major interest holders - and their exploration portfolios - are consolidating," stated the Newfoundland board's decision. Barbara Pike, spokeswoman for the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, said Monday that 19 out of 54 Nova Scotia exploration licenses have to be renegotiated after a 30-year boundary dispute over Laurentian sub-basin borders was resolved in early April. The decision drew a line down the middle of both provinces' proposed boundaries along the 6,000 square kilometer seabed, home to an estimated 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 700 million barrels of oil reserves.

Call for bids on offshore parcels are preceded by nominations submitted by regulators, or, as in most cases to date, by industry. The Nova Scotia board doesn't release how many nominations were submitted, and isn't required to post a reason for any ruling. Pike said that deferring the June call didn't indicate development of offshore resources was slowing down. Nine exploration licenses were granted in January, with one work commitment for a record C$193 million. Work commitments for development offshore Nova Scotia total C$1.5 billion from companies such as Imperial Oil Resources Canada, Gulf Canada Resources, Exxon Mobil Canada Inc. and Conoco Canada Ltd.


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