A pipeline connecting a Shell Canada drilling rig to a wellhead deep under the ocean has broken off in heavy storms off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Damage was caused to the equipment by severe weather.

Shell Canada official said that the incident took place 225km offshore at the Cheshire well.

For the timebeing, the company suspended operations at the well, which is part of its Shelburne Basin exploration project, a proposed deepwater drilling programme.

"Shell Canada stated that the pipe had already been drained of fluids and there were no leakages of drilling fluid or hydrocarbons."

The programme involves six exploration licences, with the project aimed at determining the potential presence of hydrocarbons in a geographical area known as the Southwest Scotian Shelf.

The Canadian Press reported Shell Canada as stating that the pipe had already been drained of fluids and there was no leakage of drilling fluid or hydrocarbons. Furthermore, Shell said a blowout protector was also in place over the well.

The drilling was taking place 225km east of Nova Scotia and the rig was disconnected from the well in preparation of a storm that was expected to cause high seas.

In an email, the company said that its contracted drill rig moved high and the riser tensioner system broke off due to heavy waves.

Shell stated that it will carry out investigation to determine the cause.