© Greg Bennett
The two seismic survey vessels stopped in Shelburne last week for crew transfers and one for a short shore leave before heading out on another assignment.
By Greg Bennett
Last week’s visit from two survey ships at the Shelburne wharf marked the conclusion of the first phase of Shell Canada’s major oil and gas exploration program in the Shelburne basin.
The two vessels stopped in Shelburne for crew transfers and one stayed until the next morning for a short shore leave before heading out on another assignment.
Since May, a small flotilla of ships has been exploring almost 20,000 square kilometres of sea bottom about 200 kilometres south of Shelburne.
Over the next year, experts will pour over the vast amount of data accumulated from the seismic 3-D wide-azimuth exploration of the Shelburne basin to determine if and where exploratory drilling should begin.
Larry Lalonde, a spokesperson for Shell Canada, said officials were happy with the results so far but added that it was far too early to interpret the seismic data.
“We have images that look like seismic data …and that’s what we want,” he said.
He said experts will carefully examine the collected data, and will also be looking for potential future problems to any drilling program, including old shipwrecks.
Lalonde said the company might need a few survey boats on the water next summer to take a closer look at some sites.
“We may need to fill in some holes in the seismic data,” he said.
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board awarded exploration rights to Shell Canada for six parcels in the Shelburne Basin.
Larry Lalonde, a Shell Canada spokesman, said the company would take about a year to 18 months to analyze the data while determining potential locations for drilling and planning an exploratory drilling program.
What role Shelburne might play in any future oil and gas development is unknown, but town officials say they are doing everything they can to let Shell officials know what the area has to offer.
Town officials who were in contact with the survey contractors coordinated the visit of the survey ships, The Geco Tau and Western Pride.
Don Faye, port manager, said the Shelburne Marine Terminal was closed off to the public during the ships’ stay due to security protocols.
The provincial government has estimated that more than 120 trillion cubic feet of gas and eight billion barrels of oil could be recovered, although Shell Canada doesn't yet have estimates of its own.
Shell recently held information sessions across the province for companies interested in supplying the oil and gas industry.
Exploratory drilling is expected to begin in 2015.