Before oil can be produced, it has to be found and assessed. This is where exploration comes in. The first step is for a company to explore seismically, which means specialized equipment will bounce sound waves off the ground or ocean floor, then record and analyze the data to get an idea of where oil is located and about how much is present. If the data looks good, exploratory wells are drilled using drill rigs to learn more about the size and make-up of the oil field.

In addition to the established oil fields currently producing offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, exploration is taking place in several regions offshore, as well as onshore on the West Coast of the island.

Oil exploration offshore Newfoundland and Labrador is really just beginning. We currently have about 150 wells drilled in the ocean surrounding our province. In the North Sea offshore Norway – where the oil & gas industry is more mature – there are over 4000 wells drilled!

In 2013, the largest oil discovery in the world was made in the Flemish Pass Basin, off the east coast of Newfoundland.

There are not a huge number of employment opportunities associated with the exploration areas but there are small teams of highly specialized personnel involved. They also may provide huge future employment prospects if a discovery is made and an installation is subsequently built and staffed!

Engineering and Earth Sciences:

  • Reservoir Engineers – apply scientific principles to potential and existing oil & gas reserves to determine if they are worthwhile and how to obtain the highest economic recovery from the reserve.
  • Geophysicists – work with Geologists and Reservoir Engineers to define the size of a reservoir and the rock properties so they can determine the best method to extract the hydrocarbons from it.
  • Geologists – analyze the rocks in the reservoirs and interpret seismic data to allow an oil company to decide the optimum location to drill to discover oil and gas reservoirs.

Marine (seismic vessels):

  • Captains – in ultimate command of the vessel and responsible for all aspects of the ship’s safe and efficient operation.  Often need the highest Transport Canada certification level, which is Master Mariner.
  • First Mates – the top officer on board a ship, after the Captain.  Also known as Chief Officer or First Officer.  Frequently a watchkeeper and in charge of the ship’s cargo and deck crew.  The First Mate takes over command of the ship in the absence of the Captain.
  • Marine Engineers – maintain and operate the machinery and electrical and electronic equipment on board ship. There are usually multiple engineers on a vessel, including chief engineer, second engineer, etc.