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Nova Scotia to Issue Eight Leases for Offshore Exploration

Nova Scotia to Issue Eight Leases for Offshore Exploration

With a bid of C$97.8 million, a 50-50 consortium of BP Canada Energy Co. and Anadarko Canada Corp. was the top bidder last week for one of eight exploration licenses off energy rich Nova Scotia, in an area about 60 miles east of the prolific Sable Island natural gas field off the east coast of Canada.

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board announced the eight high bidders Thursday. The tracts were offered by the board in June, and the high bids represent what the lessees would spend exploring the blocks during the first five years of a nine-year lease. Exploration licenses for the parcels will be issued within 30 days if there are no objections.

The BP Canada/Anadarko tract, No. 6, covers 185,580 hectares in water between 200 meters to 2,500 meters deep. Company officials said they would develop a plan for exploration by early next year.

"The Canadian East Coast is an exciting new area of growth for us and this is a key step in maintaining our leadership in the North American gas market," said BP Canada president Tim Holt. Anadarko Canada President Jim Emme said the tract "fits well into the company's overall North American natural gas strategy and complements our frontier opportunities in the Mackenzie Delta."

Kerr-McGee Offshore Canada, a unit of Kerr-McGee Corp. was high bidder for three parcels: C$27.3 million for No. 1, covering 306,800 hectares in waters 500 to 3,000 meters deep; C$20.6 million for No. 2, covering 114,010 hectares in waters between 100 and 1,700 meters deep; and C$13.1 million for No. 7, which covers 296,440 hectares in less than 100 meters of water.

Canadian Superior Energy Inc. was high bidder on two parcels: C$5.1 million for No. 4, which covers 24,050 hectares in waters less than 100 meters deep, and C$22.6 million for No. 5, which covers 30,776 hectares in less than 100 meters of water.

Canadian Superior Chairman Don Axford said the "land acquisitions position Canadian Superior as a major player in this world class basin." Axford said his company holds extensive seismic database of the East Coast of Canada, adding, "drilling plans are under way."

Richland Minerals Inc. bid C$2.1 million for No. 3, which covers 25,935 hectares in less than 100 meters of water, and C$3.2 million for No. 8, which covers 279,990 hectares in waters 2,000 to 3,500 meters of water.

In 1999, the Sable Offshore Energy Project, considered the flagship development in the area, began production and currently is producing more than 440 MMcf/d. The natural gas is shipped into the U.S. Northeast through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Several companies, including Shell Canada ltd. and Exxon Mobil Corp. own the project.

Carolyn Davis, Houston

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