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Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) has issued its NS17-1 call for bids for exploration licences covering three locations east of Cape Breton Island.  

CNSOPB will accept bidding applications until 14 December this year. The licences are in a geological region called Sydney Basin in water depths of between 50m and 450m. 

Subject to federal and provincial ministerial approval, successful bidders will receive the exploration licences. 

Two wells were previously drilled in the offshore portion of the Sydney Basin that encountered gas in shallow sandstone formations. 

CNSOPB has completed a geoscientific interpretation of the licences, indicating that the areas may contain oil and gas.

Active oil seeps are present onshore Cape Breton, further indicating the presence of hydrocarbons in the region. 

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"CNSOPB has completed a geoscientific interpretation of the licences, indicating that the areas may contain oil and gas."

The primary target formations at Sydney Basin are similar to the producing regions situated in the Stoney Creek oilfield and McCully gasfield in onshore New Brunswick. 

These target formations are yet to be drilled.

CNSOPB has also conducted a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in the area that includes the three offshore locations to evaluate potential environmental effects that may occur due to oil and gas activities.

The regulator noted that the SEA report will be assessed, along with project specific environmental assessment for any offshore activity after awarding the exploration licences through the call of bids process.

Operators securing the exploration licence must meet all legislative, regulatory and environmental requirements before starting operations. 

CNSOPB is an independent agency under the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia and holds the responsibility to regulate and supervise petroleum activities and offshore resources.