Abstract

In 2013, Nalcor announced the mapping of three newly defined sedimentary basins off the Labrador coast (the Henley, Chidley and Holton Basins) as well as the extension of the previously defined Hawke Basin. This mapping was based on the Nalcor and TGS regional 2D seismic surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012. These newly defined sedimentary basins are located primarily in deep water in the Labrador Sea, off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. To date there has been no regional study of the Metocean conditions offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, and as part of Nalcor's exploration strategy, a metocean study was seen as a crucial piece of information in an area of frontier exploration. Nalcor commissioned C-CORE to characterize the metocean environment, covering topics such as winds, waves, currents, icing, fog, pack ice, icebergs and ice islands, changes in conditions expected due to climatic change and comparisons with other frontier regions. Conditions were summarized for 391 study area sub-sections (mostly one degree longitude by half degree latitude blocks). While there is a perception that the Labrador Sea is essentially an arctic environment, it is subarctic and conducive to oil and gas exploration and development. While the pack ice and iceberg regime is challenging along the Labrador coast, conditions improve substantially further offshore in deeper water. The regional characterization of iceberg frequency was difficult due to limited data, as most surveillance effort has been focused on and immediately north of the northeast Grand Banks in support of existing oil and gas production operations in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin. The characterization of iceberg frequency in the deep water basins was achieved through analysis of archived Envisat satellite data. The quantification of the sea ice and iceberg presence for these areas shows that the ice risk is significantly less than off Greenland and near-shore Labrador, and over much of the deep water basins similar to (or even less than) the Grand Banks.

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