EnCana Corp. has buoyed the hopes of Nova Scotia’s offshore oil and natural gas industry by designating a Swiss company to build and operate its planned Deep Panuke mobile offshore production unit.

Among other things, the designation of Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) to operate the unit appears to indicate the EnCana will move forward on the gas project, and it means jobs for the province.

“The contract award for the production field center is a key step in the development of the Deep Panuke natural gas field,” said EnCana’s David Kopperson, vice president of the company’s Atlantic Canada unit. Under an earlier agreement with Nova Scotia, EnCana is required to guarantee 1.35 million hours of local project work in areas such as engineering, design, procurement and fabrication.

Energy analysts were wondering whether the Deep Panuke was a go until last month, when EnCana’s board approved the $700 million project, which will be located about 175 kilometers off the coast of Halifax (see Daily GPI, Oct. 26). About 300 MMcf/d of gas could begin flowing as early as 2010.

Produced gas will be transported by subsea pipeline to Goldboro, NS, where it will be transported via the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline to markets in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.

SBM will own and operate the production field center and lease it to EnCana for the life of the project. The company will be responsible for engineering, procurement, fabrication, installation and commissioning, and it also will provide personnel.

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