BP has won four deepwater exploration blocks from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) after submitting a $1bn bid.

The board announced that BP has the right to explore blocks five, six, seven and eight in the call for bids NS 12-1.

The $1bn bid, which will be spent over six years, is the highest ever accepted for deepwater exploration rights in Atlantic Canada.

The blocks, located about 300km off Nova Scotia at water depths ranging from 100 to 3,000m, cover an area of almost 14,000 square feet.

BP Exploration executive vice president Mike Daly said that gaining access to this "promising acreage" will play a key role in the company’s future growth.

"This entry to Nova Scotia’s offshore plays to our strengths in the deepwater and sub-salt," Daly added.

"The $1bn bid is the highest ever accepted for deepwater exploration rights in Atlantic Canada."

Under the terms of the deal, BP will have to submit a security in the form of a Work Deposit to the CNSOPB within thirty days.

In return, the board will endorse the exploration licences to the company, keeping 15 January 2013 as the effective date for permits.

BP is also required to submit a detailed exploration plan to the CNSOPB within 90 days of the effective date.

"We are pleased about the quality and materiality of our exploration prospects. In addition to deepening in our existing core areas, our drilling programme is expected to test 15 completely new plays between 2012 and 2015," Daly said.

The announcement came a day after BP agreed to pay $4.5bn in a settlement with the US Government during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster which killed 11 people.

The settlement includes a criminal fine – the largest in US history – of $1.26bn, which BP will pay in instalments during five years.

Image: Map showing deepwater exploration blocks offshore of Nova Scotia, Canada. Photo courtesy of BP.