Oil prices may be lower than they have been in over a half decade, but that hasn’t slowed the interest in Canada’s oil reserves off of its east coast.
A consortium of companies just submitted a bid for the parcels off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada’s largest ever bid for offshore blocks. Led by ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), the group bid $559 million for the rights to 266,000 hectares in the Flemish Pass, a stretch of water east of St. John’s. ExxonMobil has a 40 percent working interest, with Suncor Energy (NYSE: SU) and ConocoPhillips Canada Resources (NYSE: COP) each with a 30 percent stake.
Separately, ExxonMobil and Suncor bid $21 million for a 298,000-hectare tract in the Carson Basin, south of the Flemish Pass. ExxonMobil also bid by itself for 109,000 hectares in the Jeanne D’Arc basin, which is a bit closer to shore, west of the Flemish Pass.
The licenses to the acreage are expected to be finalized in January if the government issues an approval. That should not be a problem, since the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador depends on oil revenues for one-third of their budget. The government was already projecting a deficit for the coming fiscal year when crude oil prices were higher than $100 per barrel. Now they are in much greater need of revenues.
To date, it has been the Jeanne D’Arc basin where much of oil exploration has been conducted – all of the current offshore…