Newfoundland seeks North Atlantic oil exploration bids

Thu May 28, 2009 3:21pm EDT
 
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The agency that regulates oil drilling off Canada's North Atlantic coast said on Thursday it has opened three exploration areas off Newfoundland and Labrador and invited companies to bid on the rights to drill in the parcels.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, a joint federal-provincial agency, said it would offer drilling rights in the Laurentian sub-basin, the Western Newfoundland, Labrador Offshore region and in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin.

The province currently has three operating offshore oil projects, all in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin about 350 km (217 miles) southeast of the provincial capital of St. John's.

However there have been exploration successes outside that region, with StatoilHydro saying last month it had made a significant discovery at its deepwater Mizzen prospect in the Flemish Pass basin 500 km (310 miles) east-northeast of St. John's.

Bids for the newly opened parcels are due in November, with winning offers based on the amount of money committed to spend exploring the property.

($1=$1.11 Canadian)

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)