The worst-kept secret in Newfoundland and Labrador’s oil industry has been confirmed: an exploration drilling campaign this summer in the Flemish Pass Basin has resulted in new discoveries.
The results will likely raise hopes about the future of the Bay du Nord project, which was deferred in March because of the global COVID-19 pandemic and collapsing oil markets.
But Equinor is not making any commitments.
“It is too early to comment on any potential impact of the discovery on the status of the deferred Bay du Nord development project,” an Equinor official wrote in a statement to CBC News.
“Equinor continues to assess the potential of Bay du Nord development project and the greater Flemish Pass Basin.”
Equinor issued a news release Thursday acknowledging that wells drilled at prospects known as Cappahayden and Cambriol were successful, but that it’s too early to provide specific information on volumes.
“We are pleased to have made two discoveries offshore Newfoundland,” Paul McCafferty, Equinor’s senior vice-president for international offshore exploration, is quoted as saying in the release.
Equinor declined an interview request.
Wells were drilled in deep waters
The wells were drilled by the Transocean Barents, a rig known as a harsh environment, ultra-deepwater semi-submersible.
The rig arrived at Bay Bulls this week, and is currently demobilizing before crossing the Atlantic Ocean for Norway in early November.
Equinor is a 60 per cent partner in the two prospects, with BP Canada owning 40 per cent.
The wells are located 500 kilometres east of St. John’s. The Cappahayden well has a water depth of about 1,000 metres, while Cambriol has a depth of 600 metres.
Equinor says it also drilled what’s known as a “top-hole” at another prospect known as Sitka.
When asked if further exploration will be carried out next year, the spokesperson wrote: “Equinor is currently evaluating next steps related to potential future activities in the Flemish Pass Basin.”
The discoveries come at a time of crisis for the Newfoundland offshore, which has been hit hard by the combination of a global pandemic, and weak and uncertain oil markets.
Equinor announced in March that it was deferring Bay du Nord in order to explore ways of making the project viable in an era of low oil prices.
In a statement issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association, known as Noia, CEO Charlene Johnson said the news out of the Flemish Pass is much needed encouraging news for…