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We are confronting another huge challenge and, like climate change, it has been encroaching for years. In concert with global warming, and in an unholy alliance, comes the decline of oil and gas.

For thousands of years slaves and cheap labour supported civilisation but, following the Industrial Revolution, humanity began to thrive on stored solar energy contained in coal, oil and gas. Used for transport, heat and cold, and materials too, notably concrete, metals, plastics and fertilisers, fossil fuels have increased human capacity a hundred fold and our standard of living, indeed our capacity to stay alive, now depends on them as we burn through 16 billion of tonnes a year, releasing double that weight of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the process.  But, although huge volumes remain in the ground the easy pickings are long gone. The new stuff is deeper in the earth, deeper under water, and in remoter, more formidable environments.

Still, this is not the whole story. This is not where the real challenge lies.

Over the last 50 years, as demand for oil and gas soared and supply routes multiplied, ever more sophisticated equipment was required for extraction, processing and transport all of which needed energy, and lots of it. As a consequence the Energy Return on Investment (EROI); the ratio of the amount of energy delivered from a resource to the amount used to obtain that resource, has fallen precipitously and is still falling.

The EROI, this is the challenge.

Of course there is no doubt, at least for most of us, that burning fossil fuels damages our environment. We face an existential threat to the world’s current climate balance on which 8 billion people relies.  So, while the net energy content from fossil fuels dwindles, we must find new cleaner sources which also require substantial amounts of energy to exploit and other things too such as uranium, graphite and rare metals, for magnets, batteries, and electronics.

Less net energy, scarce materials, resource nationalisation, high costs and inflation. It is a recipe for human hardship and, of course, resource wars. And what are we doing to counteract this perfect storm? In regards to EROI, not much at all.

The energy and transport industries are developing alternatives, experimenting with carbon capture and converting to electrified transport. But some organisations are making things worse, attempting to ‘stop oil’ and damage economies in countries most active in mitigating the problems. A reduction in the financial strength of commercial organisations and governments reduces their capacity to pay for new technology and infrastructure and other strategies to mitigate the effect of a changing climate.

 We should all feel free to persuade (or force) humans to use less energy for leisure activities but careless attempts to cut essential supplies through bans and boycotts can kill people more quickly and efficiently than climate change ever could.  Make no mistake ‘clean’ energy supplies are still insufficient to meet our needs. Only by retaining fossil fuels in controlled decline while expanding renewable and mitigation strategies can human death and destruction be, perhaps, avoided.

Falling EROI is happening. Climate change is happening. But surely we should also work to provide sufficient energy for all our 8 billion people. Like it or not, fossil fuels remain fundamental to the existence of our crowded human world.


Nov 2023: Suncor (operator, 48%), Cenovus (34%) and Murphy Oil (18%) restarted the Terra Nova FPSO following completion of the Terra Nova Asset Life Extension project. It has been out of service since 2019.

Apr 2023: The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has issued Calls for Bids for Exploration Licences in the Eastern and South Eastern Newfoundland Regions with a deadline of November 1, 2023.


Nov 2022: The Government released results of its call for bids for offshore exploration in the Eastern Newfoundland Region. ExxonMobil, QatarEnergy, BP, and Equinor are successful bidders for 5 parcels.

Jun 2022: Cenovus Energy and its partners have agreed to restart the West White Rose Project offshore Newfoundland and Labrador with the first oil anticipated in 2026. Construction was suspended in March 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic then operated by Husky Energy. The project is expected to reach peak production of 80,000 bbls per day by year-end 2029.

May 2022: The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) issued Calls for Bids for Exploration Licences in Eastern and South Eastern Newfoundland Regions consisting of 28 parcels (7,005,595 hectares) and 10 parcels (2,665,292 hectares) respectively. The deadline for sealed bids is November 2, 2022.

Apr 2022: The government approved the US$12 bn Bay du Nord oil project proposed by Equinor. It involves building a floating platform to drill an estimated resource of 300 mm bbls of light in the Atlantic Ocean, 500 kms off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador Provinces.


Jan 2021: The Government has allowed 3 offshore exploration drilling projects operated by BHP (Orphan Basin Project, 1157 and 1158), Equinor (Central Ridge Project, 1159 and 1160), and Chevron (West Flemish Pass Project, 1138) to proceed so that authorizations and permits can be applied for from federal departments.

Jan 2021: White Rose remains in production but the new platform-based West White Rose, which Husky suspended last year, designed to access 200 mm bbls of oil and extend the life of White Rose by 14 years, is now uncertain. Cenovus has taken over operatorship.


Nov 2020: The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board announced the results of Call for Bids NL20-CFB01 which offered 17 parcels in Eastern Newfoundland. The only successful bid was for Parcel 9 (US$27 mm work commitment) from BP. No bids were received for the remaining parcels. The licence will be issued in January 2021.

Oct 2020: Equinor (operator, 60%) and BP (40%) made 2 oil discoveries  in the Flemish Pass Basin, off Newfoundland. Cappahayden-1 and Cambriol-1 wells are in a water depth of 990m and 600m. Equinor operates 3 other discoveries in the basin, Bay du Nord and Harpoon (2013) and Mizzen (2010).

Jun 2020: The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) issued a Call for Bids in Eastern Newfoundland consisting of 17 parcels. Bids are due by Nov 2020 with the sole criterion being money the bidder commits to spend in the 9-year Period I. The C-NLOPB will not proceed with a Call for Bids in the Jeanne d’Arc Region in 2020.

Apr 2020: Pieridae has postponed an FID to build the Goldboro LNG export plant in Nova Scotia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was expected to have started producing at the US$10 bn project by 2025 from 2 trains with a combined production capacity of 9.6 mmtpa.

Apr 2020: An exploration drilling campaign (Pelles well) planned for the Flemish Pass area off Newfoundland and Labrador has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mar 2020: Husky announced that it will begin suspension of activities at the West White Rose Project. Production from the White Rose field and its satellite extensions is continuing into the SeaRose FPSO.

Mar 2020: Due to lower oil prices Equinor and Husky will postpone the offshore 300 mm bbl Bay du Nord project. It was previously expected to start production in 2025.


Sep 2019: Oceaneering will decommission 7 offshore gas platforms for ExxonMobil’s Sable Offshore Energy Project, 135 miles east of Halifax. Sable was Canada’s 1st offshore gas project with first gas produced on December 31, 1999 and production ending on December 31, 2018.

Apr 2019: The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) issued Calls for Bids for Licences in the South Eastern Newfoundland and Jeanne d’Arc Regions. They consist of 9 and 4 parcels respectively. Deadline is Nov 6, 2019 with the sole criterion being spending committed on exploration during Period 1.


Dec 2018: The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) issued Call for Bids NS18-3 on the Scotian Shelf within the Sable Subbasin with maximum water depths up to 100m. A number of undrilled exploration prospects have been identified including the Marmora gas discovery.

Jul 2018: Newfoundland and Labrador signed a framework agreement for the US$8.3 bn Bay du Nord oil project in Flemish Pass in 1,170m of water offshore Newfoundland. First discovered in 2013, it includes the Bay de Verde and Baccalieu discoveries in 2016. Equinor is operator (65%) with Husky (35%). An FID for an FPSO is expected in 2020 with first oil in 2025.

Feb 2018: The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has issued a call for the submission of nominations of areas of interest in the Eastern Newfoundland region. The sector identification announcement will be made in June 2018.

Jan 2018: Total (26.05%) along with Suncor (operator, 53.06%) and Teck (20.89%) announced that the Fort Hills oil sands project in Alberta, 90 kms north of Fort McMurray, has achieved first oil. Production will ramp up to reach a plateau of 180,000 bbls per day.


Nov 2017: ExxonMobil (operator, 35.5%) started production at the 700 mmbbl Hebron field off Newfoundland and Labrador. It will produce up to 150,000 bbls of oil per day through a stand-alone gravity-based structure supporting an integrated topsides deck in 92m of water. Partners are Chevron(29.6%), Suncor (21%), Statoil (9%) and Nalcor (4.9%).

Aug 2017: Nexen, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC (25%), announced that the Hangingstone project has commenced production comprising a steam-generators, well pads, 32 well pairs, water treatment and bitumen flowlines. Peak production of 20,000 bbls per day is planned for 2018. Japan Canada Oil Sands (JACOS) holds the remaining 75% and is operator.

May 2017: Husky Energy (operator) has approved the West White Rose Project off Newfoundland and Labrador using a fixed wellhead platform tied back to the SeaRose FPSO vessel. First oil is expected in 2022 with peak production of around 75,000 bbls per day in 2025. Partners are Suncor and Nalcor.

Apr 2017: The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) issued a Call for Bids (NL17-CFB01) for 3 areas in the Jeanne d’Arc region. Bids are due by November with a sole criterion - the amount of money committed to spending on exploration during Period I.

Feb 2017: Norman Wells in the high arctic will soon be shut-in by Imperial Oil, ending almost a century of production in the area 1,700 kms north of Calgary. Gas produced from the site is used to generate local electric power. Oil output dropped to just under 9,000 bbls per day in 2016, down 73% from its 1991 peak of 33,000 bbls per day.


Oct 2016: The Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) collected US$565 mm in work commitments in bids for deep water blocks off East Newfoundland and in the Jeanne d'Arc basin. BP was the highest bidder. C-NLOPB will issue licences in January 2017.

May 2016: Husky has started steam operations at the Vawn Lloyd Thermal Project in Saskatchewan, the second of 3 thermal projects to be commissioned in 2016. The 10,000 bbl per day development will produce first oil in Q3 2016. The Edam East development began production in mid-April.

Apr 2016: BP (operator, 40%) is delaying its exploration project off Nova Scotia until 2018 from a previous timing of late summer 2017. It is the operator of four exploration licences, ELs 2431, 2432, 2433 and 2434 in water depths ranging from 500-3600m. Partners are Hess Canada (40%) and Woodside (20%). The plan for the licences is up to 7 exploration wells over a 3-year period.

Mar 2016: Husky started steam operations at the Edam East heavy oil thermal project in Saskatchewan, the first of 3 new thermal projects coming online in 2016. With the addition of Vawn and Edam West a total of 24,500 bbls of oil per day capacity is expected. These are part of the Lloyd heavy oil development including the Saskatchewan gathering system, upgrader and asphalt refinery.


Aug 2015: ConocoPhillips (50%, operator) and Total (50%) announced start-up of the Surmont 2 SAGD oil sands project in Alberta. Production will ramp up through to 2017, adding 118,000 bbls per day capacity. Total capacity for Surmont 1 and 2 will be 150,000 bbls per day.

Jul 2015: Husky (operator) started production from the South White Rose project in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin off Newfoundland and Labrador. It is Husky’s second subsea tieback after the North Amethyst project, extending the life of the White Rose field and SeaRose FPSO. The Hibernia-level well beneath North Amethyst field is expected to begin production later in 2015.

Jun 2015: ConocoPhillips (operator, 50%) has achieved first steam at Surmont phase 2. First oil is expected by the third quarter of 2015 with production ramping-up through 2017. Capacity for Surmont 1 and 2 is expected to reach 150,000 bbls per day. Total (50%) is partner.

May 2015: There could be up to 200 bn bbls of oil resources  beneath the central Northwest Territories in the Canol and Bluefish shales of which perhaps 4% could be recoverable.

May 2015: Offshore gas production from the Deep Panuke platform, which came onstream in 2013, has been shut in due to excess water cut. Operator, Encana, has converted the field to a seasonal operating strategy. Gas from Deep Panuke is processed offshore and transported, via subsea pipeline, to Goldboro, Nova Scotia. It will now only produce in the winter.

Mar 2015: Husky (operator, 50%), with BP (50%), has started oil production at the Sunrise SAGD Energy Project in northern Alberta. Steam operations began in December 2014. Total production is expected to ramp up to full capacity of 60,000 bbls per day at the end of 2016.

Jan 2015: Canadian Natural Resources will defer the first phase of its 40,000 bbl per day Kirby North thermal project until oil prices stabilise. Phase one of the SAGD project was targeted for the fourth quarter of 2016. CNRL is proceeding with its Horizon oil sands project which will add 125,000 bbls per day of synthetic oil capacity by 2018.


Dec 2014: Husky will defer the final investment decision on its offshore West White Rose oilfield extension project. First production  was originally anticipated for 2017. Husky also expects first oil from its South White Rose extension in mid-2015, later than planned.

Nov 2014: Woodside and partners have approved the Persephone Project comprising 2 wells and a 7km subsea tieback to the North Rankin Complex. Project start-up is planned for 2018, helping to maintain supplies to the Karratha Gas Plant. Partners are Woodside (operator), BHP, BP, Chevron, Japan Australia LNG and Shell (all 16.67%).  

Nov 2014: The Northwest Territories, including the Arctic islands and the Beaufort Sea, hold 1.2 bn bbls of oil and 465 bcm of gas according to the National Energy Board (NEB) (Globalshift notes: this seems an underestimate considering the extent of sedimentary cover in this region).

Sep 2014: Statoil has postponed the Corner field development at the Kai Kos Dehseh oil sands project in Alberta due to high costs. Statoil acquired Kai Kos Dehseh in 2007 and in 2014  divided the leases with PTTEP. Statoil holds 100% of Leismer and Corner with PTTEP holding 100% of Thornbury, Hangingstone and South Leismer. Leismer is unaffected.

Jun 2014: Husky Energy expects to begin production from the Bay du Nord field, discovered in 2013 off Newfoundland in 1100m of water, early in the 2020s. The development would be the first in the Flemish Pass region, 500 kms northeast of St. John's. Statoil is operator with 65%, along with Husky (35%).

Mar 2014: Cenovus Energy has approval for its Grand Rapids oil sands project which is expected to reach a production capacity of 180,000 bbls per day. Cenovus has been operating a SAGD pilot project at the site and has 2 other operating projects; Foster Creek producing  110,000 bbls per day and Christina Lake producing 130,000 bbls per day. Expansions are continuing.

Jan 2014: Husky has sanctioned two new heavy oil thermal (SAGD) projects in Saskatchewan, which will deliver a total of 20,000 bbls per day of production. These are the Edam East project and Vawn project with first oil expected in 2016. Husky has a pipeline of additional thermal projects under evaluation for development into its Lloydminster Upgrader.


Oct 2013: Suncor (operator, 40.8%), Total (39.2%) and Teck Resources (20%) will proceed with the Fort Hills oil sands mining project in Alberta's Athabasca region. The project is scheduled to produce first oil in late 2017. Capital investment is US$13.5bn or US$84,000 per flowing barrel of bitumen.

Oct 2013: Shell is to proceed with its Carmon Creek project, Peace River, Alberta. The thermal in situ project is expected to produce up to 80,000 bbls of oil per day and will be producing for more than 35 years.

Sep 2013: Canadian Natural Resources has achieved its first steam injection at its wholly owned Kirby South steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project. Kirby South is targeted to increase to 40,000 bbls per day by end 2014 and is the first step in an expansion plan for the greater Kirby area, targeted to eventually increase to 140,000 bbls per day.

Aug 2013: Statoil, in partenership with Husky, has made a third oil discovery in the Flemish Pass Basin, offshore Newfoundland on the Bay du Nord prospect, estimated to hold 300 to 600 mm bbls of light oil, in block EL 1112. Bay du Nord was drilled by the West Aquarius semisub in 1,100m of water.

Jun 2013: Statoil has discovered light oil in the Harpoon well within the Flemish Pass Basin, offshore Newfoundland, EL 1112. Harpoon was drilled by the semisub West Aquarius in 1,100m of water. It is located 10 kms south-east of the 2009 Mizzen discovery, estimated to hold up to 200 mm barrels of oil. Statoil is operator with 65% along with Husky (35%).

Jun 2013: Husky has received regulatory approval for a development plan amendment for the South White Rose field. The original plan was approved in 2007 and the amendment provides for gas injection allowing access to the South Avalon Terrace on the southern tip of the main White Rose field. It will be developed via subsea tie-back to the SeaRose FPSO with first oil planned for 2014.

Apr 2013: ExxonMobil announced the startup of the Kearl oil sands project in Alberta. Kearl will access 4.6 bn bbls of bitumen and is the first oil sands mining operation without an upgrader, instead using paraffinic froth treatment to produce diluted bitumen. Startup of additional trains will proceed in sequence bringing production to over 200,000 bbls per day by 2016 and ultimate capacity of 345,000 bbls per day by 2021. Kearl is 75 kms northeast of Fort McMurray and is operated by Imperial Oil.

Apr 2013: In 2012 Statoil increased oil sands production by more than 60% at the Leismer Demonstration Project and in the Kai Kos Dehseh (KKD) leases in northern Alberta. Production at the Leismer SAGD facility began in 2011. In 2012 it produced 16,333 bbls per day.

Mar 2013: Canada invited companies to nominate drilling lands in the Arctic for inclusion in a property auction. The region, part of the Nunavut territory, has been barely explored since the 1970s, when high oil prices and government grants encouraged companies to drill. That exploration boom led to the discovery of 16 fields including the 12 mm bbl Bent Horn field on Cameron Island, 1,600 kms south of the North Pole. It produced nearly 3 mm bbls of from 1985 to 1996 before it was abandoned.

Jan 2013: ExxonMobil plans to develop the Hebron oil field spending $14 billion and beginning oil production in 2017. It will be developed using a gravity-based structure capable of storing 1.2 mm bbls of oil and supporting a topsides deck. The structure will allow for the recovery of over 700 mm bbls and be capable of producing 150,000 bbls per day. Partners include ExxonMobil with 36%, Chevron (26.7%), Suncor (22.7%), Statoil (9.7%) and Nalcor (4.9%). Hebron was discovered in 1980 in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin and lies 350 kms southeast of St. John's and 9 kms north of the Terra Nova project in 92m of water.

Jan 2013: Imperial Oil ‘s Kearl oil sands project in northern Alberta will start commercial production in early 2013 after delays. The 110,000 bbl per day first stage bitumen development is undergoing commissioning. Impending production from the US$11 bn development has been a factor behind discounts on Canadian heavy oil, as export pipeline capacity remains limited. The project has been under construction since 2009. Kearl will be Canada's fifth tar sands mining venture.

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