Off­shore oil ex­plo­ration heats up in the gulf


The clos­est oil ex­plo­ration to the south­west coast to date is set to kick into high gear over the next two years.

A Nova Sco­tian re­source ex­plo­ration com­pany be­lieves there are two bil­lion bar­rels of oil off the south­west coast of New­found­land, and they hope to start drilling test holes for it in 2011 or 2012.

This sum­mer the com­pany plans to do the ex­ploratory and en­vi­ron­men­tal work to will al­low it to drill.

Nor­man Miller, pres­i­dent and CEO of Cor­ri­dor Re­sources Inc, said his com­pany’s prospect, known as ‘ Old Harry’, lies about 100 kilo­me­tres due west of Co­droy in the Lau­ren­tian Chan­nel.

“ The name comes from a place on the Mag­dalens – Old Har­rys are sort of rocks that stick up in the har­bour.”

If the es­ti­mated two bil­lion bar­rels of oil in Old Harry proves true, it would make the prospect larger than Hiber­nia, which holds an es­ti­mated 1.2 bil­lion bar­rels of oil.

With the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of the Mag­dalen Is­lands, the south­west coast is the near­est land to the Old Harry prospect. Mr. Miller said if oil or gas is found, it will be up to the com­pany ex­tract­ing it to de­ter­mine where their land base will be for any fu­ture op­er­a­tions.

He ex­plained the com­pany’s claim strad­dles the New­found­land and Que­bec sea floor. Tech­ni­cally, there is no of­fi­cial bound­ary be­tween the two prov­inces.

Be­cause the site is likely to strad­dle any bound­ary that is drawn, rev­enues could pos­si­bly be split be­tween the two prov­inces.

It’s all spec­u­la­tion un­til a sig­nif­i­cant find is made and the proper per­mits are is­sued.

Cor­ri­dor Re­sources plans to drill on the New­found­land side be­cause they can’t get a per­mit to op­er­ate in Que­bec, even though Mr. Miller ad­mit­ted the Que­bec side seems to be the best site to drill.

“Que­bec doesn’t have an ac­cord with Canada. So the only place we can get a drilling per­mit to drill in is on the New­found­land side.”

This sum­mer’s work will be a site sur­vey. The com­pany will use tech­niques such as cor­ing, side scan­ning sonar and sparker sur­veys.

It also plans to do much of the en­vi­ron­men­tal sur­vey­ing needed be­fore drilling can be­gin.

Cor­ri­dor Re­sources has bud­geted $800,000 on this sum­mer’s work, to de­ter­mine if the site is vi­able for com­mer­cial devel­op­ment.

Mr. Miller said “ We’ve done quite a bit of seis­mic there. We’re pretty ex­cited about the prospect.

“ We have to get a rig lined up – but our in­ten­tion is to get (a rig) out there in 2011 or 2012.”

As a ju­nior re­source com­pany, Cor­ri­dor Re­sources’ job is to lo­cate pos­si­ble oil and gas re­serves. Usu­ally larger, es­tab-

– Nor­man Miller, Cor­ri­dor Re­sources

lished oil com­pa­nies then buy out or part­ner with ju­nior firms to de­velop po­ten­tial sites.


Al­though Mr. Miller said the com­pany has a per­mit for ex­plo­ration on the New­found­land side, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter Kathy Dun­derdale said as far as the prov­ince is concerned, there is no bound­ary be­tween New­found­land and Que­bec on the gulf floor.

“ No, there isn’t (a sea floor bound­ary) in terms of oil and gas devel­op­ment, which is the per­spec­tive from which we’d be ap­proach­ing it.”

Que­bec is aware of Cor­ri­dor Re­sources’ in­ten­tions and that prov­ince’s nat­u­ral re­source min­is­ter has pub­licly said the prov­ince wants to set­tle the bound­ary is­sue so Cor­ri­dor can drill on the Que­bec side.

Ms. Dun­derdale said the prov­ince has no prob­lem with Que­bec’s plans.

“ We’re quite sat­is­fied for the bound­ary to be es­tab­lished as long as it’s done by the terms of in­ter­na­tional mar­itime law. We’re happy enough that they want to es­tab­lish a bound­ary.”

Mr. Miller said he too is pleased Que­bec wants to make a deal with the fed­eral govern­ment. If they do, it means his com­pany will be able to ac­cess the prime drilling sites closer to the Mag­dalen Is­lands.

Sean Kelly of the Canada-New­found­land and Labrador Off­shore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) ex­plained how Cor­ri­dor Re­sources could be granted a li­cence to ex­plore on the New­found­land side when there is no le­gal bound­ary.

He said the li­cence is based on a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate of where an even­tual Que­bec-New­found­land line might be drawn.

Un­der its cur­rent ex­plo­ration li­cence, Cor­ri­dor Re­sources must stay well east of what is known as the ‘ Stan­field Line,’ a line that was drawn in 1964 in an at­tempt to divvy up the sea floor among the prov­inces.

Ot­tawa re­jected the prov­ince’s pro­posal. In 1973, then­premier Frank Moores also re­jected the line.

Que­bec con­tin­ues to main­tain the Stan­field Line is le­git­i­mate, but Mr. Kelly, who re­cently wrote a the­sis on this sub­ject, said New­found­land is cor­rect when it claims there is no le­gal bound­ary.

He said Que­bec will have to come to an agree­ment with the fed­eral govern­ment, sim­i­lar to what New­found­land has in its ac­cord with Ot­tawa. He said un­til that hap­pens, it’s un­likely any oil or nat­u­ral gas will be pumped out of the Old Harry prospect.

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