Canadian Manufacturing

Shell seals off deep water exploration wells off Nova Scotia

Sealing the well involves the installation and testing of multiple barriers in the wellbore; the move comes shortly after the company abandoned its nearby Cheshire well



HALIFAX—Shell is sealing off the second of its two deepwater exploration wells off Nova Scotia.

The company began work on the Monterey Jack well on the Scotian Shelf on Sept. 25, shortly after abandoning its Cheshire well in the Nova Scotia offshore, about 250 kilometres southeast of Halifax.

Shell spokesman Cameron Yost said in an email that sealing the well involves “the installation and testing of multiple barriers in the wellbore.”

He also said it is too early to speculate on what the results of the well are, saying it will take some time to analyze the information gathered from Monterey Jack by a contracted exploration vessel.

Petroleum geologist Grant Wach, a professor at Dalhousie University, cautions deep waters off the Scotian Shelf may require a number of exploration wells before firm conclusions are reached, adding that it required over 30 wells to make the Grand Banks discovery off Newfoundland.

However, the deepwater drilling off Nova Scotia has attracted opposition from municipal leaders, environmentalists and fishermen’s groups concerned about the possibility of a blowout.

During the drilling of the Cheshire well, the ship contracted to drill the well dropped two kilometres of pipe and other drilling gear onto the ocean floor on March 5.

The incident occurred after the ship unlatched the drilling gear from the wellhead due to heavy seas, and was moving away from the site.

There were no injuries or spills, but a report has noted the accident was costly and caused delays in the drilling effort.

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