Measurement and Testing

Where is the Flemish Pass Basin? 

Jun 26 2017 Comments 0

With deep water, wild weather and towering icebergs, the Flemish Pass Basin is no piece of cake. It sits off the coast of Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province, in the North Atlantic Ocean. But despite the logistical difficulties, it’s still been pegged as the future of offshore oil.

Of course, tapping into the goldmine won’t be easy. Statoil’s discoveries in the Flemish Pass are much further out than its current offshore fields, which means the Norwegian owned company will need to significantly expand its operations. That said, it’s already been drilling in the area for several years and has plans to sink a second pair of exploratory wells this summer.

"We're eternal optimists," says Paul Fulton, Statoil's country president for Canada.

A Canadian goldmine

So, what’s all the fuss about? According to analysts, the Flemish Pass Basin could be housing an estimated 300 to 600 million barrels of oil beneath the ocean floor. The Bay du Nord well is one of the most promising discoveries, around 500 kilometres from St. John's. Covering the distance by helicopter would take three hours, which is two times longer than nearby fields like Hibernia, in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin. The vast distance will add to the cost and logistical hurdles, but Fulton is confident that the company is up to the challenge.

"We've been operating for 40 years in the Norwegian continental shelf, which has a lot of similar conditions," he says. “This is what we do every day. We have many helicopter rides out on the Norwegian continental shelf. This is what we believe we're experts at."

Icebergs of titanic proportions

Icebergs are another major challenge, though Fulton explains that Statoil is well-prepared to take on the floating giants. It’s a monumental task, with Newfoundland recently making headlines when an iceberg taller than the one that sank the Titanic cruised into the small town of Ferryland.

"Iceberg management is quite frequent in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin. You can put a tow rope around it and try to change its trajectory away from the platform. Also, several of our supply vessels are equipped with water cannons for firefighting. Those cannons can be used to spray an iceberg to change its trajectory."

The multi-billion dollar questions

Of course, for the project to be profitable Statoil needs to accurately predict future prices.

"That is the multibillion-dollar question," admits Fulton. "That's one of the main challenges as an oil company, is to take a view on what the oil price is going to be in the second half of the next decade, in the 2020s.

From pharmaceuticals to environmental analysis, oil sourced from the Flemish Pass Basin will be subject to a string of sampling and control processes. ‘How to Prevent Process Analytical System Failures’ spotlights the fundamentals of the latest FDA guidelines, and how they form the basic building blocks of good process analytical management.

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