But the recent discoveries of oil and natural gas, and the ongoing efforts to further optimize the region’s resources, will not only benefit the economies and communities of the Atlantic region. The whole of Canada is set to reap the benefits of the commitment to growth and the pursuit of technological innovation that is being shown by the region’s energy industry.

Lucrative discoveries, thriving economies

“There have been a number of discoveries that have resulted in actual production of oil and gas in Atlantic Canada, and that has helped to create a thriving economy,” explains Paul Barnes, Atlantic Canada Manager of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “This is especially the case in Newfoundland and Labrador, where most of the offshore discoveries in the region have occurred.”

Last year, Statoil’s oil finds offshore Newfoundland was one of the top ten offshore discoveries in the world. As well as creating plenty of jobs within the sector itself, the booming energy industry is also responsible for giving a major boost to local supply and service companies, who cater to the needs of the burgeoning energy industry. 

It’s a region in growth mode, as Barnes puts it. Other business and industries completely unrelated to the energy sector are seeing Atlantic Canada as a good place to set up shop, contributing even further to the rapidly developing economy. 

The knock on effect of this growth is the rejuvenation of local areas and communities. Some parts of the region are seeing record levels of house sales, new neighborhoods in development and high-end condominium buildings transforming the skyline. Atlantic Canada is an exciting place to be.

Projects and technology

Taking place off shore Newfoundland, and currently in the construction phase of development, the $14bn Hebron oil development project is just one of the groundbreaking initiatives set to take Atlantic Canada’s energy industry onto the next level, explains the CEO of the Maritimes Energy Association, Barbara Pike.

Pike also mentions the importance of the $1.5bn dollar Muskrat Falls Maritime Link project, which will ship hydroelectricity from the falls in Newfoundland directly to Nova Scotia. When complete, the project will be responsible for providing affordable long-term energy for customers of Nova Scotia Power.

“We have a number of other exciting exploration programs happening offshore Nova Scotia,” says Pike. “There’s currently one project being run by BP and another by Shell. They’re particularly interesting because these two companies have brought the latest technology, in the form of 3D wide azimuth seismic surveys, into play.”

Two-dimensional azimuth surveys, which were the industry standard until recently, provided cuts and lines for technicians to analyze to determine the geological structure beneath the ocean floor.

“The 3D wide technology provides a much better picture for the geologists,” says Pike. “The 2D technology was very much an interpretation of the geological structure, but now the analysis is finally tuned because the information provided is much more accurate.”

Last year, Shell’s Nova Scotia based 3D wide azimuth program was the largest in the world, and this year BP’s project will be matching that scale. The commitment of these huge international companies signals further growth and prosperity for Atlantic Canada in the short, mid and long-term.

“We have a number of other exciting exploration programs happening offshore Nova Scotia.”

Energy security 

The geo politics of energy security have never been more at play. Taking a look at the energy forecasts from any of the large, reputable energy agencies clearly shows that, with global populations and prosperity increasing, demand for energy will undoubtedly rise even more. It makes the energy developments and discoveries in Atlantic Canada even more significant; Canada’s energy position is strong and stable.

“As a country, we are stewards to some of the largest energy resources on the planet,” explains Brenda Kenny, CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association “We’re also stewards of some of the most sophisticated technology, knowledge workers and governance mechanisms on the planet.”

The increased pipeline capacity in the region will benefit the whole country for decades to come. “Anytime a region in Canada becomes stronger, we all become stronger,” says Kenny. “It’s part of moving forward together, as part of a national economy that is participating as a strong global player.”

“These developments have a way of creating very important contributions region by region, but also for Canada as whole.”

The tax dollars that will be created as a result of the increased business will play a direct role in maintaining the good quality of life that is enjoyed by the majority of Canadians, notes Kenny. “It’s important for the things that matter to people day-to-day, like excellent education, healthcare and roads,” she continues. “These developments have a way of creating very important contributions region by region, but also for Canada as whole.”

Oil and gas pipelines have been the backbone of Canada’s energy supplies for decades but, because they lay a metre under the ground, people are virtually unaware of these energy highways that power our country. 

“Sometimes people joke that we need a billboard that says, ‘if you’re driving, thank a pipeline,’” says Kenny. “Because very few people give a second thought to the infrastructure that they rely on, whether that’s flying in and out of Pearson or just getting the kids to a hockey game.”