Offshore Drilling and Its Discoveries Within Canada

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Petroleum discoveries in Canada took place in areas that were populated and along regions of penetration into the frontiers. Various locations in Canada did encounter the drillings. The first was Ontario where there was the first oil play. Natural gas occurred on the Canadian Pacific Railway. The search for petroleum in Canada has started off from humble beginnings where much of the activities was directed towards continental shelves. Exploration then did involve the use of huge machines, large sums of capital and logistical support systems (Khakzad, Khan & Amyotte, 2013). For example, the offshore drilling process in the region of Beaufort Sea did cost more than one hundred million dollars. However, the efforts to search for oil then was not always a success as had been depicted in the case of Mukluk where a total of $1.5 billion dollars was spent in search of petroleum. Other regions in Canada further did present challenges when it came to the process of drilling. Notably, Atlantic Canada, Canadian Arctic Archipelago, and northern Canada were expensive when it came to exploration and development.

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The process of offshore drilling in parts of Canada is defined by three primary means. The first being is exploring regions that could serve as potential places for the same. After exploration and ascertaining the feasibility of the site for exploration, the next process becomes the development of the region to exploit the resources available. Next is carrying out the production process to harvest the oil. Finally, for regions that are having limited reserves, there is the possibility of running into deletion. For example, regions such as Bent Horn found in the Arctic and Panuke have been shut down since they have completed their productive lives. Alternatively, other regions where natural gas was being drilled are in the final stages of their decline. Overall the process of the drilling in Canada does follow the stated chain.

Canada has been conducting offshore drilling in various parts within the country. The first evidence of the same is in the Northwest Territories. The region is depicted to have been discovered by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, a move that was confirmed by the Geological Survey of Canada in the year 1888. The discovery of the region saw the entire process of drilling being introduced where an oil show was discovered after about thirty meters of drilling. However, the process was stopped after it was found that the oil reserves were small and could not be economically viable. However, drilling was later resumed where oil was struck in digging for two hundred and forty meters. Subsequently, drilling was started where three more holes were dug, and two were successful, but one was found dry. The process was later followed by installation of equipment that would then be used for refining the crude oil that was later to be used as fuel oil by churches and boat. However, the drilling process was stopped in the year 1921 because of lack of markets. The northern market then was small and could not justify the costly expenses that were incurred then. Despite the little stunt of manufacturing that was experienced at Norman Wells, the drilling did show a significant milestone when it came to the development of exploration oil in Canada. Around the year 1936, an oil refinery was opened that was using the Norman Wells and did supply Eldorado Mine.

Another significant milestone realized when it came to drilling was that which took place in the Arctic frontiers. Interest in Arctic islands being potential sites for petroleum reserves did come about because of studies by Yves Fortier working with the Geological Survey of Canada. A survey conducted then did show the presence of sediments that could be containing hydrocarbon traps. Various petroleum companies then did apply to the Government of Canada requesting that they are given permission to explore the remote lands around the year 1959. With permission of the government, the first well dug was the winter#one well that was built on Melville Island. It was drilled during the 1961 and 1962s. Dome Petroleum was in charge of the operation during the period. Equipment was brought in to facilitate the drilling process with Cornwallis and Bathurst Islands depicting success.

The government took measures to ensure that they encourage drilling since it was evident that there was a success when it came to exploration. The aim was further to assert the sovereignty of Canada, and it led to the formation of the Panarctic Oils Ltd. The company did consolidate interests of over seventy-five companies as the government remained to be the primary shareholder then (Masterson, 2013). The company started exploration with seismic work, and drilling was conducted in the Arctic Islands. In the year 1969, Drake Point was defined as Canadas largest gas field. The subsequent years did experience significant gas fields with reserves of over five hundred billion cube meters of dry natural gas being discovered.

Panarctic Drake Point that was drilling in the year 1969 was defined to be the fundamental discovery in Arctic Islands (Masterson, 2013). The field has fourteen wells, however, in the course of the drillings, there were cases of blowouts. For example, a well that was drilled in the year 1970 on King Christian Island did end up in a blowout. The section did drill for over ninety-one days but caught fire. Such were some of the challenges that were encountered when it came to the process of drilling.

Panarctic Oil Ltd was also able to locate oil in islands at Cisco and Skate. The exploration was focused on regions that had thickened ice. The company was able to find a lot of gas but also derived oil from the process. In the year 1985, Panarctic Ltd did start the commercial production of petroleum but on an experimental scale. The company delivered volumes of oil to markets in the south in the year 1988, and production did continue until the year 1996.

Finally, the Newfoundland and Labrador marked another prospect when it came to offshore exploration. Drilling was first started in the year 1971. Grand Banks of Newfoundland did show much focus because of the potential that was evident when it came to the drilling in the region (Paine et al., 2014). Notably, the drilling took place at Avalon and Jeanne dArc basins. The exploration was started in the year 1966. However, despite the potential of the region, out of the forty wells that were dug, only one of them was found to have oil in the year 1973. The wells at Grand Banks were dry. In the year 1976, there was a change in fortunes with the discovery of Hibernia oil strike. The region was confirmed to have potential when it came to oil drilling offshore.


Khakzad, N., Khan, F., & Amyotte, P. (2013). Quantitative risk analysis of offshore drilling operations: A Bayesian approach. Safety science, 57, 108-117.

Masterson, D. M. (2013). The Arctic Islands Adventure and Panarctic Oils Ltd. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 85, 1-14.

Paine, M. D., DeBlois, E. M., Kilgour, B. W., Tracy, E., Pocklington, P., Crowley, R. D., ... & Janes, G. G. (2014). Effects of the Terra Nova offshore oil development on benthic macro-invertebrates over 10 years of development drilling on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Canada. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 110, 38-64.

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