The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) granted Shell Canada the approval to begin its Shelburne Basin Venture Exploration Drilling Project, offshore Nova Scotia.
The Stena IceMAX. From Kongsberg.
Shell Canada submitted applications earlier this year to the CNSOPB for a deepwater drilling program 250km offshore of Nova Scotia. The initial phase of the program involves the drilling of two exploratory wells.Prior to drilling the first well (Cheshire), Shell Canada must also receive an approval to drill a well (ADW) from the CNSOPB. The CNSOPB anticipates that this ADW will be issued within the next few days. A separate ADW will be required, at a later date, for the second well (Monterey Jack).
The drilling unit being employed by Shell Canada, the Stena IceMAX, is currently carrying out preparatory work prior to the start of drilling operations.
“After an extensive regulatory review process, Shell Canada has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the CNSOPB that it will be taking all reasonable precautions to protect safety and the environment while carrying out the drilling program,” said Stuart Pinks, CNSOPB CEO.
“Shell Canada’s original submission proposed that, in the unlikely event of a blow out, the deployment of a capping stack would take up to 21 days. CNSOPB required Shell Canada to review the deployment time to determine if it could be reduced,” said Pinks. “Shell Canada has responded with a more optimized schedule that indicates that a capping stack could arrive at the wellsite, should it be required, within 12 to 13 days. At the same time, Shell Canada would also deploy a second capping stack as further contingency.”
Over the past five years, CNSOPB has imposed more stringent requirements that are being implemented by Shell Canada including significant improvements to the blowout preventer. The granting of an operations authorization does not authorize the use of dispersants in case of a spill.
“With the stringent requirements now in place for blowout preventers, independent well examiners, real time monitoring and CNSOPB’s deepwater drilling oversight plan – all new requirements since the Macondo incident in 2010 - we are confident that all reasonable precautions to protect safety and the environment have been taken,” said Pinks.
In August, Shell's Shelburne Basin Venture Exploration Project marked the first time 3D wide azimuth (WAZ) seismic technology was used in Canada, providing much clearer data in water depths of 1500m to 3500m, 250km to 350km offshore Nova Scotia.