The Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada is home to several major offshore oil discoveries. Most notable are the 800+ MMbbl Hibernia and 400+ MMbbl Terra Nova fields, currently in production; the 200+ MMbbl White Rose field, currently under development towards planned start-up in early 2006; and the 500+ MMbbl Hebron field, whose development future is undetermined at this time. All discoveries are in a single producing basin, the Jeanne d'Arc.
Since the discovery of Hibernia, there have been predictions that offshore Newfoundland could become the next North Sea. But while the Jeanne d'Arc Basin has proven to be a world-class producing basin, other large discoveries have remained elusive to date. Since the inception of the industry in the North Sea, thousands of exploration and delineation wells have been drilled and hundreds of fields have been developed.
During a similar time period, well under 200 exploration or delineation wells have been drilled, and just two fields have entered production on the Grand Banks. While offshore Newfoundland and Labrador has not lived up to its early billing as the next North Sea, the opportunity remains for this region to be a more significant producing area, but probably not at the scale of the North Sea.
Petro-Canada operates the Terra Nova field, and has substantial interests in Hibernia, White Rose, Hebron and all but one of the significant hydrocarbon discoveries in the region since 1979. This paper provides one perspective on the development of the Newfoundland offshore area - the considerable environmental, geological, technological and infrastructural challenges, the significant opportunities that are driving continued interest in the region, and the factors for success.