The Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) project has identified diverse rich hydrocarbon potential in Nova Scotia Offshore. There is a substantial opportunity in shallow water, small-scale traps with potential for both oil and gas. The PFA has also identified and mapped very large-scale potential traps that could contain gas, condensate and/or oil. Large-scale gas/condensate opportunities exist along the North Eastern part of the margin in deep water and a predicted oil charged play in the South West of the margin.
The diversity of the opportunity set makes Nova Scotia of interest to a wide range of companies. Combined with the proximity to the world’s largest market and the political stability of a G8 nation, this makes Nova Scotia Offshore a very valuable investment opportunity for the oil industry.
Play Fairway Analysis Atlas
Below are the links to the current chapters of the Nova Scotia Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) Atlas. These chapters provide the results of the PFA. However, some are unfinished slides. Although scientifically accurate, the presentation will be polished over the coming weeks to provide improved context and readability.
Documentation of the Play Fairway Analysis is at an advanced stage. Interpreted material in digital format is also being prepared, which will enable interested parties to conduct due diligence and modify interpretations as desired. Our intention is to make digital material available in two forms:
1) Separate files containing
- Grid files for time, depth, isochron and isopach maps.
- Synthetic seismograms in SEG-Y format
- Seismic horizons
- Well tops
- Composite logs
- Geochemistry data, and
2) GIS database containing the above as well as various seismic and geological maps (GDE, CRS and seismic facies maps)
It is expected that the individual file compilation will be available shortly. It is the expected that the GIS database will be completed by the end of the summer with the final version of the complete Play Atlas available on this website by the end of the summer.
Due to the size of the images within the PFA, please expect long download times. If you are unable to download the files, please contact us for assistance or to request a DVD copy.
- Atlas Title – (421.4 KB)
- Executive Summary – (447.2 KB)
- Acknowledgements – (231.1 KB)
- Table of Contents – (116.5 KB)
- Chapter 1: Introduction – (40.7 MB)
- Chapter 2: Plate Tectonics – (12.2 MB)
- Chapter 3: Stratigraphy – (112.5 MB)
- Chapter 4: Petroleum Geochemistry – (10.9 MB)
- Chapter 5: Seismic Interpretation – (963.7 MB)
- Chapter 6: Tectono-Stratigraphic Evolution Petroleum Systems – (1.6 GB)
- Chapter 7: Basin Modeling – (39.6 MB)
- Chapter 8: Petroleum Evaluation – (228.4 MB)
- Chapter 9: Late Jurasic Carbonate Play Fairway Analysis -- Addendum to Play Fairway Analysis – (862.7 MB)
- PFA ISOPACH Grids – (7.4 MB)
- PFA TVDSS Grids – (7.9 MB)
- PFA TWT Grids – (7.6 MB)
- Synthetics – (0.3 MB)
- Time Depth Data – (2.9 MB)
- 2D Seismic Interpretation (Note: This is a large .dat file. Please right-click the link and save it to your hard drive)
- 3D Seismic Interpretation
- ARC GIS Data – (266 MB)
- Annex 1: Well List Directory – (52.9 KB)
- Annex 2: Well Database for Workstations – (492.6 MB)
- Annex 3: Well Data Package – (1.0 GB)
- Annex 4: Well Log Results – (77.6 KB)
- Annex 5: Reservoir Properties – (117.1 KB)
- Annex 6: Petroleum Results – (470 KB)
- Annex 7: References and Bibliography – (248.2 KB)
- Annex 8: Report: Pe-Piper Sedimentology – (2.1 MB)
- Annex 9: Report: A. Karim, G. Pe-Piper, D.J.W. Piper Sedimentology – (260 MB)
- Annex 10: Report: Beaumont Salt Tectonics – (29.7 MB)
- Annex 11: Report: Hanley Fluid Inclusions – (1 MB)
- Annex 12: Report: Kettanah Fluid Inclusions – (28.2 MB)
- Annex 13: Report: Sibuet Plate Tectonic Reconstruction – (54.1 MB)
- Annex 14: Report: Louden Refraction – (11.7 MB)
- Enclosures – (157.5 MB)
Scale of the oil and gas opportunity
The Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) project has identified rich hydrocarbon potential offshore Nova Scotia with an unrisked yet to find of 120 trillion cubic feet of gas and eight billion barrels of oil. This potential has diverse characteristics and scales. In present day shallow water, there is a substantial opportunity in mostly small-scale traps with potential for both oil and gas. The shallow water depth makes this attractive to a wide range of oil companies.
The PFA has also identified and mapped very large-scale potential traps that could contain gas, condensate and/or oil. Large-scale gas/condensate opportunities exist along the North Eastern part of the margin in deep water. Even more valuable to investors is the prediction of a primarily oil charged play in the South West of the margin. These plays in deep water will be of interest to the large oil majors, who have the capability and capacity to operate in this challenging environment.
The diversity of the opportunity set makes Nova Scotia of interest to a wide range of oil companies. Combined with the proximity to the world’s largest market and the political stability of a G8 nation, this makes offshore Nova Scotia a very valuable investment opportunity for the oil industry. This evaluation has been technically peer reviewed by five major oil companies and has received support from these peers.
Royalties and other forms of government revenues from offshore petroleum production are extremely important to Nova Scotia. Between 1996-2013 (fiscal years), Nova Scotia received $3.5 billion in offshore royalty-related revenue. This includes Crown Share, Offshore Accord, Petroleum Royalties and Forfeitures. In fiscal year 2012 -2013, the provincial government received $22,748,000 in royalties. In addition, petroleum activities have generated substantial economic activity, with total cumulative petroleum expenditures from 1996-2012 at $8.0 billion. Approximately $2.5 billion or 31% of that amount was spent right here in Nova Scotia. This includes investments from ExxonMobil, Encana, and other exploration companies.
The history of petroleum exploration in Nova Scotia Offshore spans more than 40 years. During this period, more than 200 exploration, delineation and production wells have been drilled with discovered reserves in the range of 2.1 billion boe (barrels of oil equivalent). Recent exploration has not been successful. The lack of exploration drilling success is reflected in the steady decline in exploration licenses.
In 2007 the Nova Scotia Department of Energy (NS Energy) commissioned a number of studies to investigate the reasons for the decline in exploration with a view to designing a strategy to rekindle exploration interest in the offshore. These concluded that the region has a perception of being a high cost environment associated with high geological risk.
These studies enabled NS Energy to make a case to the province to provide funding for a comprehensive geoscience program specifically targeted at understanding and reducing geological risk. In 2008 the government of Nova Scotia committed funding of approximately $18 million to the OETR (Offshore Energy Technical Research) Association to enable it to undertake research to support offshore energy development. A significant portion of this (in the order of $15 million) funded the Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) program, with the goal of stimulating renewed offshore petroleum exploration activity.
The Play Fairway Analysis Project
In April 2009, the OETR Association awarded the contract to RPS Energy of the United Kingdom to co-ordinate the creation of an industry standard Play Fairway Analysis project for offshore Nova Scotia. The objective of the project is to demonstrate to the industry that there is a commercially attractive hydrocarbon province offshore Nova Scotia. This requires:
- Showing that there is the potential for multi TCF/Bnbbls of yet to find (YTF) resources in the basin in large structure
- There is a way to reduce the exploration risk. In particular the project has to show the following:
- There is a source rock that extends beyond the confines of the current production area in the Sable region
- Reservoir presence and quality can be predicted, both on the shelf but also in the deeper water
- We can understand the ‘petroleum system’; the process by which hydrocarbons are generated and migrate into potential traps
The project recognized that there was a vast amount of knowledge about the offshore geology in Halifax and it was important to incorporate this knowledge into the overall ‘Play Fairway’ story. The project was therefore split into a number of components in which the Halifax research community were able to contribute their specific technical expertise into an integrated geoscience analysis.
Of particular note are the plate tectonic and salt modeling projects which build on work being done at Dalhousie University; and the biostratigraphy and reservoir quality projects which build on work being done at St. Mary’s University. All projects will also build on the extensive high quality thinking and knowledge that exists in the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) and the CNSOPB. BEICIP FranLab based in Paris was engaged to integrate the results of these individual projects to develop an industry standard play fairway analysis and atlas. This includes the creation of Gross Depositional Environment (GDE), and Common Risk Segment (CRS) maps on each key sequence leading to the development of a final Yet to Find Analysis by play segment.
Play Fairway Analysis — The work done
The PFA has resulted in some profound results that have the potential to transform the industry perception of the hydrocarbon potential of Nova Scotia offshore. These results, backed by the high quality technical analysis will attract the attention of the world’s leading oil companies.
The core technical work involving analysis of the complete data set on the Scotian offshore has focused on addressing the following issues:
- Developed a new tectonic model to understand evolution of the Scotian basin through time. The project acquired a new OBS (Ocean Bottom Seismometer) line specifically designed to understand crustal structure. This data combined with re-evaluation of existing work both in Nova Scotia and the conjugate margin in Morocco has developed a new model for the rift history
- Built a new sequence stratigraphic framework for the basin. This work combined a re- analysis of the biostratigraphy data with key seismic lines to develop a robust and internally consistent stratigraphy. This stratigraphy has been mapped on a comprehensive regional grid of seismic data to provide a set of surfaces that define the basin architecture
- The project has undertaken a complete re-evaluation of all the geochemistry data from the region. This has entailed re-analysing type wells for source rock and maturity data and isotope and molecular analysis of the discovered hydrocarbons. Piston core data acquired from the seabed and oil seeps have been included in the analysis
- The stratigraphy, rift history and geochemistry have been combined into a 3D petroleum systems model of the basin that is used to predict source rock maturity, timing of hydrocarbon generation and migration and calculate the basin Yet to Find hydrocarbon potential
This technical work was reviewed both internally and externally by representatives from five leading oil companies. These Peer Reviews confirmed the quality of the technical work and endorsed the conclusions.
There are four important insights arising from the work. Three conclusions address the geological risk and the final, fourth conclusion concerns the potential for hydrocarbon volumes.
The distribution of existing hydrocarbon production is confined to the Sable sub-basin. Previous analysis of the source rocks penetrated and the discovered hydrocarbons suggested that the hydrocarbons were locally sourced (associated with early Cretaceous deltaic sequences). The PFA has developed a model that allows the potential for a more regional Lower Jurassic source rock that extends beyond the Sable sub-basin and underlies the whole margin. The presence of this regional source rock is confirmed by isotope and molecular analysis of the oils discovered in piston cores taken along the length of the margin. Analysis of these oils proves the presence of a distinct separate regional source rock. The presence of OIL in the piston cores suggests that the source rock is oil prone in the Western half of the Scotian margin. The eastern half is gas dominated as demonstrated by the existing production (although there is an oil story in the Sable sub-basin as well).
The presence of reservoir rocks in the Sable area is proven. However predicting their extent away from the core production areas is a problem. The detailed sequence stratigraphy along with seismic analysis has developed predictive models for four reservoirs that form the main play fairways for the margin:
- Mic Mac Upper Jurassic Delta sequence in the North East of the margin
- Abenaki Carbonate Bank forms the reservoir for the Deep Panuke field. This reservoir extends to the west along the ‘shelf edge’. A carbonate special project is working up a way to predict fluid phase and rock type using seismic attributes
- Two Lower Cretaceous Delta sequences are the producing reservoirs in the Sable sub basin. The PFA has developed a model to predict reservoir/seal distribution in the Sable region itself, and with the use of sediment distribution models combined with seismic attributes can predict reservoir into the deep offshore
These four play fairways are proven and with the revised source rock model and de-risking approach are attractive. In addition to these plays the PFA has identified untested reservoirs in the Western part of the basin in the area of the oil prone source rock. These include:
- The offshore extension of the Middle Jurassic Mohican delta in the Albatross/ Shelburne region
- Mid Jurassic carbonate oolite reservoirs that were found in the Shelburne well
- Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous delta sequences have been identified on Georges Bank. These shed sediment that could form reservoirs in the Southwest area of the margin (in the area outside the Moratorium zone)
Petroleum Systems Modeling
The 3D petroleum systems model identifies target areas by determining source rock type and maturity at the present day. The following two statements can be made as a result of this modeling:
- The Lower Jurassic source rock is generating oil today in the Southwest part of the margin. In the Eastern part of the margin it is generating gas which could have sourced the Deep Panuke gas reservoir (oil generation occurred before the Deep Panuke reservoirs were sealed)
- The main source rocks for the Sable sub basin fields is the upper Jurassic Tithonian sequence and is in the gas window today. The basin shallows at the margins and in the shallow region of the basin, the source rock is in the oil window. Therefore there is the potential for an ‘oil’ rim round the Sable delta. Evidence for this is provided by the Cohasset and Penobscot oil discoveries and oil shows in wells to the North East of Sable. This is a credible oil play, which exists in shallow water and is underexplored
Yet to Find and Prospect Sizes
The confident identification of two source rocks enables an assessment of the volumes of hydrocarbons generated. The modeling work indicates an un-risked yet to find of 120 trillion cubic feet of gas and eight billion barrels of oil. The volumes of generated hydrocarbons are substantial and sufficient to fill the several large structures that can be seen on the seismic data.