ExxonMobil to Drill Exploratory Well in Orphan Basin

ExxonMobil to Drill Exploratory Well in Orphan Basin

Maxime Lefebvre
2 min read

ExxonMobil to Drill Exploratory Oil Well in Orphan Basin

ExxonMobil is gearing up to drill an exploratory oil well in the Orphan Basin, positioned 500 kilometers off the eastern coast of Newfoundland. The Persephone well, to be drilled by the Stena Drillmax ship, will delve into waters as deep as 3,000 meters. Notably, this well is in close proximity to the Flemish Pass Basin, where Equinor is contemplating the nation's inaugural deepwater oil production operation, Bay du Nord. As observed on marine traffic websites, the Stena Drillmax is currently docked in the harbor in Bay Bulls, NL, with drilling anticipated to extend over a period of about four months. Equinor had earlier revealed its decision to shelve the Bay du Nord project for up to three years in a bid to enhance its cost-effectiveness. The report was initially disseminated on May 14, 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • ExxonMobil is set to drill an exploratory oil well in the Orphan Basin off the coast of Newfoundland
  • The Persephone well will be drilled in waters as deep as 3,000 meters and is anticipated to take around four months
  • Equinor's Bay du Nord project has been delayed for up to three years due to cost-related concerns
  • The Stena Drillmax ship is stationed in Bay Bulls, N.L., awaiting departure


ExxonMobil's scheduled drilling in the Orphan Basin might signify a resurgence in deepwater oil exploration, potentially stimulating analogous endeavors from competitors. This action could yield positive effects on Canadian oilfield services and related job markets in Newfoundland and Labrador. Nevertheless, it may encounter opposition from environmental organizations, potentially leading to legal disputes or reputational hazards for ExxonMobil.

In the short term, the activities of the Stena Drillmax ship will bolster the local economy of Bay Bulls, NL. The long-term implications encompass probable oil discoveries, which could either advance or encumber Canada's energy sector, contingent on global oil prices and environmental regulations. Despite Equinor's postponement of the nearby Bay du Nord project, this development might incentivize a recommencement of their plans, considering the revived interest in the region.

This move could also exert pressure on other nations to reevaluate their deepwater drilling policies, which could influence multinational oil companies and their exploration strategies. As a result, countries boasting substantial offshore reserves, such as Brazil, Mexico, and Angola, might experience heightened interest in their oil blocks, drawing more investments into their respective energy sectors.

Did You Know?

  • Orphan Basin: It is a geological basin located off the east coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and is an area of growing interest for exploration due to recent discoveries in nearby basins.
  • Drillship (Stena Drillmax): A type of marine vessel equipped with drilling rigs for exploratory or production drilling of oil or gas wells, capable of operating in water depths of up to 10,000 feet.
  • Bay du Nord Project: A deepwater oil production project led by Equinor, which has been delayed for up to three years due to affordability concerns, yet remains a priority for the company and is expected to be one of the largest offshore oil developments globally upon becoming operational.

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