BP plc’s Canadian unit has narrowed its deepwater exploration campaign offshore of Nova Scotia by cutting the license area in half, but the oil major still holds drilling rights to 7,000 square kilometers (2,800 square miles) of Atlantic seabed.

BP and investment partner Hess Canada Ltd. shrank the hunting ground after finishing one well rather than drill the four required to keep the entire territory, according to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB).

A C$1 million deposit is being paid for an option to try a second well, added CNSOPB. Following standard Canadian offshore industry practice, results of the first well remain confidential with BP only indicating evaluation is underway.

Federal environmental approval has been granted for up to seven wells on the vast exploration spread, up to 370 kilometers (220 miles) southeast of Halifax in ocean depths of 100-3,000 meters (327-9,810 feet).

The first well was finished without the disasters predicted by opponents of the approval, who had warned that the Canadian target zone was three times as far offshore and twice as deep as the deepwater Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico that blew out in 2010, leading to one of the worst offshore disasters in history.

The Scotian Shelf well, named Aspy D-11, took about eight months to drill, plug and abandon in water 2,777 meters (9,080 feet) deep about 330 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Halifax. Operations were briefly interrupted by a hurricane, an elbow injury suffered by a worker and a spill of heavy drilling fluid that swiftly sank.

Drilling supporters, including the provincial government, hope the project will start a new development wave by confirming earth sciences forecasts that the Scotian Shelf harbors 121 Tcf of natural gas and 8 billion bbl of oil.

The first generation of Nova Scotia gas production ended in December, when the 19-year-old Sable Offshore Energy Project (SOEP) shut off its last depleted wells. Earlier this month, SOEP leader ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. set a target date of 2021 to eliminate the last trace of the gas production network on the seafloor near Sable Island and the east coast of Nova Scotia.