Public input wanted on Shelburne Basin offshore drilling

Greg Bennett
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By Greg Bennett

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency wants public input before deciding if a federal environmental assessment is required for a proposed drilling project off the southwestern coast of Nova Scotia.

Shell Canada Limited wants to conduct an exploratory drilling program of up to seven exploration wells between 2015 and 2019. Specific drilling locations will be determined using seismic data gathered as part of the Shelburne Basin 3D Seismic Survey conducted in the summer.

The first phase of Shell Canada’s major oil and gas exploration program in the Shelburne basin wrapped up in September. Two survey vessels stopped in Shelburne for crew transfers and one for a short shore leave before heading out on other assignments.

Since May, a small flotilla of ships had been exploring almost 20,000 square kilometres of sea bottom about 250 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 Shell Canada spokesman, said the company would take 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.

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.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is seeking public comments on the project and its potential effects on the environment.

Written comments must be submitted by Dec. 23, 2013 to:

Shelburne Basin Venture Exploration Drilling Project
 Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
, 200-1801 Hollis Street
, Halifax, NS B3J 3N4
; by Fax: 902-426 6550
 or by email at

All comments received will be considered public.

The Agency will post a decision on its website in the New Year to announce if a federal environmental assessment is required.

If it is determined that a federal environmental assessment is required, the public will have three more opportunities to comment on the project.

Organizations: Shell Canada, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

Geographic location: Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1801 Hollis Street

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Recent comments

  • Todd Goodick
    December 20, 2013 - 14:33

    Anyone who has been in the oil and gas industry know this could be a game changer for our small town. The amount of money this could bring into the county is unlike anything we have seen. Our restaurants , businesses, motels and fabrication shops just name name a few. We as a town need to be ready , Shell is a leader in the industry when it comes to safety and environmental aspects. I have worked for them and it's impressive how they put these things ahead of production costs. If we are gonna have a company here doing this we should be glad it's these guys. Let's do this the right way and work with them instead of against them.