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Project Description


In Eastern Canada, BHP’s current offshore interests include two existing Exploration Licences (ELs) in the Orphan Basin Area (EL 1157 and EL 1158) that were issued by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board effective January 15, 2019. Currently, BHP is the sole interest holder in EL 1157 and EL 1158 (Figure 1.1).

BHP proposes an exploration drilling program in EL 1157 and EL 1158 to explore the potential presence of hydrocarbons in prospective oil and gas targets.

Any Project-related onshore support activities are expected to take place at existing onshore supply facilities that are owned and operated by third-party contractors, have been previously approved under applicable regulatory processes, and which provide services to multiple offshore operators.


  • 11-Jan-2021: The Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, the Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson announced that the BHP Canada Exploration Drilling Project could proceed subject to meeting legally-binding conditions. BHP is looking forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to progress our regulatory approvals and planning for the project.
  • 4-June-2020: The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada has released a Ministerial Regulation to improve the efficiency of the assessment process for exploratory drilling projects in an area of the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore. This improvement does not impact BHP’s current Drilling Environmental Impact Statement, however we support this initiative that reduces regulatory cycle time, while maintaining a strong and effective environmental regulatory regime. This milestone represents important recognition for the collaborative efforts of many groups and individuals who are committed to ensuring the safe, effective and responsible operation of the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore.
  • 13-May-2020: Seabed Survey Design Report accepted by DFO and CNLOPB.
  • 5-May-2020: Public Comment period on Environmental Impact Assessment closed.
  • 5-Mar-2020: Environmental Impact Assessment submitted and Public Comment invited.

Future Work

The Project will involve drilling up to 20 wells in total (with between one and ten wells on either, or both, ELs). The specific number, location and type (exploration or appraisal) of these wells will be determined as Project planning activities continue, based on available geophysical survey data, information from previously drilled wells and other applicable information.

Drilling operations could begin as early as 2021 pending the receipt of required regulatory and corporate approvals, the availability of suitable drilling units, the identification of appropriate drilling targets, and other technical, logistical and commercial considerations.

The Project may also include associated Vertical Seismic Profile surveys, well testing and eventual decommissioning and abandonment or suspension activities, and associated supply and service activities required to support drilling activities. Additional vessels will be required to complete the well site survey, geophysical surveys and geotechnical sampling. These vessels may include, but not be limited to: survey vessels (including Remote Operated Vehicles / Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) for the conduct of high-resolution geophysical acquisition, and geotechnical coring vessels. Seasonally, ice management vessels may also be required.

BHP Canada Exploration Licence

Figure 1.1: BHP Canada Exploration Drilling Project Licence Area

CanNL Benefits

BHP recognizes the importance of the Atlantic Accord to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and agrees with the principle that Newfoundland and Labrador should be the primary beneficiary of its offshore oil and gas resources.

We are committed to fulfilling our obligations with respect to the statutory requirements outlined in Section 45 of the Atlantic Accord Implementation Act. Our exploration benefits plan includes policies and procedures to ensure these requirements are met and employment and procurement opportunities are maximized to the extent possible.

Specifically, BHP commits to providing manufacturers, consultants, contractors and service companies in the province and other parts of Canada with a fair opportunity to participate on a competitive basis in the supply of goods and services that will be required for the exploration drilling program. BHP also commits to give first consideration for employment and training, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to individuals resident in the province.

We intend to work closely with the local business community, governments, educational and training facilities and various other stakeholders to effectively steward the benefits plan and achieve a positive outcome.


At BHP, we understand that our success depends on our ability to earn society’s trust and confidence. To develop trust, we aim to build deep and authentic relationships with local, regional, and global stakeholders and rights-holders. We also appreciate our responsibility to make a positive contribution to sustainable development, and contribute to this through our direct business activities, our economic contribution via taxes and royalties, and our voluntary social investment.

In Atlantic Canada, we commit to ongoing dialogue with local communities who have an interest in our operation, in particular the communities in Newfoundland-Labrador as well as the Indigenous communities across the region. The views and concerns of people within the communities that host us are incorporated into our decision-making and we strive for mutually beneficial outcomes. All of our operations are required to establish culturally appropriate platforms for dialogue that enable us to work with stakeholders and rights-holders to develop strategies that consider their concerns and aspirations.

Further details on our policies related to Community can be found at:

Health Safety and Environment

Health Safety and Environment (HSE) are high priority areas for BHP and we have established clear requirements to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees and contractors while at the same time ensuing protection of the environment.

Further details on our policies related to HSE can be found at:

Diversity and Inclusion

BHP focuses on creating a work environment where employees are enabled to reach their full potential, feel strongly connected to the company’s values and objectives, and where the diverse skills and abilities of the people are a key differentiator of the company’s success.

BHP will continue to employ its inclusion and diversity policies during the NL drilling program, and will work closely with contractors and subcontractors to ensure they are in alignment.

Further details on BHP’s approach to diversity and inclusion can be found at:


BHP is committed to ensuring first consideration for employment and training opportunities will be provided to Newfoundland and Labrador residents. This commitment will also extend to contractors and subcontractors. Recruitment for local BHP position will be achieved through a variety of methods, including, national and local career and job search websites, local newspaper career section and through the use of prequalified NL and other Canadian staffing agencies.

Further details on careers in BHP and potential employment opportunities refer to the following links.

The majority of personnel required during our drilling program will be employed by the contractors responsible for key scopes of work, such as supply vessels and the drilling rig. They will be required to follow the same recruitment procedures as BHP with the primary objective to employ Canadians with first consideration to qualified Newfoundland and Labrador residents.