Conference an opportunity to sell N.L. offshore: Nalcor

Crown corporation shows off latest in research

Published on August 22, 2014
Nalcor Oil and Gas lead Jim Keating says drawing new oil companies to Newfoundland and Labrador for offshore oil exploration will mean providing new information but also promoting to the right people. — Telegram file photo

Today is the final day of a conference that has allowed for both the presentation of scientific papers and promotion of the potential for oil and gas discoveries in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore.

Since Wednesday, approximately 300 attendees from 15 countries have been gathered at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in St. John’s for the Atlantic Conjugate Margins Conference.

The conference was started in 2008, beginning in Halifax, then moved through Lisbon and Ireland as host locations.

Nalcor Energy, with the provincial government and the province’s oil and gas industry association — Noia, sought the event’s fourth go-around for St. John’s.

It is different from the annual Noia gathering, given its ability to draw more representatives from companies active in far-flung regions, not normally looking at the details of oil and gas exploration off Canada’s East Coast, according to Nalcor Oil and Gas lead Jim Keating.

Attendees are looking for the latest studies relevant to margins (in the geoscience world, the transitions from oceanic and continental lithosphere). Over 600 giant oilfields have been located in passive margins, or about 30 per cent of the world’s biggest oilfields, Keating said.

Nalcor believed it had a good pitch for getting the event held here, given the conference’s goal of providing detailed, technical presentations on offshore margin study.

“I thought we had a good position to gain the conference simply because last year we discovered these basins off Labrador — and that was a good thing, because what we did is we showed what we thought we understood about how these margins behaved, how these plates separate, (where) sediment is supposed to thin, that we have a case right before us in Labrador where, in fact, it didn’t thin,” Keating said, explaining the conference was a chance to showcase offshore study by the Crown corporation.

More than 90 presentations will have been made at the conference, including one from Nalcor’s manager for oil and gas exploration, Richard Wright, who presented a paper on the first day in collaboration with colleagues Kim Welford, Deric Cameron and James Carter.

Wright then took to the podium solo, for a keynote speech titled: “Emerging Plays in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Slope and Deepwater Basins.”

“He was able to get in his good, technical piece that shows the substance of what we do ... but at the same time, he had a perfect opportunity to market and present what Newfoundland and Labrador had on offer,” Keating said.

Attendees at the event represent about 30 different oil companies.

“I would say that’s the largest gathering of oil and gas companies that we’ve ever had in St. John’s.”

In a statement issued earlier this week, Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley said the province is pleased to host the conference.

“Through the geoscience work that is being carried out by the province and Nalcor, there is a heightened interest in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore from global oil and gas companies. It is a great time to host a conference of this magnitude in the province,” he said.

“The Atlantic margins are increasingly yielding major new hydrocarbon discoveries and are becoming an important area of focus for oil and gas new venture teams,” said Ian Atkinson, Nalcor’s chief geophysicist and a conference co-chair, in the same statement.

“To attract exploration and to maximize benefits from oil and gas production, further exploration off our shores must be undertaken. This is very much dependent on collaboration between scientists and industry,” added Noia president and CEO Robert Cadigan.

Conference presentations have quite often focused on the North Atlantic, with multiple submissions  tied to offshore regions recognizable to the local industry, including frontier areas of exploration like the Carson Basin and Orphan Basin.