CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) won exploration rights in five areas of the Laurentian Sub-basin offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, making a C$97 million ($97.35 million) commitment to secure the properties, the province's offshore regulator said on Friday.
Shell was the sole bidder on the properties, which total more than 5,000 square miles (13,000 square kilometers, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said.
The Laurentian Sub-basin lies in the Atlantic, about 210 miles southwest of St. John's, the province's capital. There is currently no oil or gas production from the region, though Newfoundland currently has three offshore oil projects in the Jeanne d'Arc basin southeast of St. John's.
Shell said it has yet to determine if its new exploration blocks could contain oil or natural gas.
"Right now we are in the early stages and we are going to have to seismic and other technical work," said Stephen Doolan, a spokesman for the company. "This will help us determine whether we are looking for oil or gas."
Also on Friday, the regulator awarded an exploration parcel in the Flemish Pass east of the Jeanne d'Arc basin. A consortium made up of Husky Energy Inc (HSE.TO), Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) and Repsol SA (REP.MC) won the rights to an 800-square mile block in the region with a C$20 million commitment. ($1 = 0.9965 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by David Gregorio)