Operator BP says it is putting its Nova Scotia exploration drilling activity on the back burner until mid-2018 citing both costs and the tough regulatory environment for the frontier environment, which is host to both rich fishing grounds and tough drilling conditions.
"The additional time will also support the preparation of a robust environmental assessment and mitigation plan as well as thorough drilling, incident prevention and response plans," BP said.
"Also, the current economic environment has placed pressure on capital budgets and a delay to a summer 2018 drilling season will support cost efficiency efforts."
BP's exploration drilling would take place 230-370km off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia.
The partners hope to drill up to seven wells within four exploration licenses - 2431, 2432, 2433, and 2434 - to test an area covering some 14,100sq.km, the equivalent of 600 Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf blocks.
Water depths in the blocks range from 500-3600m.
BP plans to submit its environmental impact statement to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency next month.
The drilling program is expected to take place over a three-year period.
Specific drilling locations will be determined using seismic data gathered as part of BP's Tangier 3D seismic exploration survey conducted in 2014 by Schlumberger's WesternGeco.
BP Canada is the operator of the exploration licenses with 40% stake. Partners include Hess (40%) and Woodside (20%).
Woodside entered the JV in late 2014, seeking geological similarities to the northern African Atlantic Margin plays that it is exploring in Morocco, where it plans drilling in the Rabat Deep block to test a 768MMbbl prospect in the Doukkala Basin with Eni and Chariot Oil & Gas next year.
Nova Scotia was attached to Morocco around 300 million years ago, hence the geological similarities.
Exploration began on the Scotian Basin, with a seismic acquisition in the early 1960s, prior to Mobil Oil drilling the first well on Sable Island in 1967.
Nova Scotia has had three major offshore petroleum projects.
It hosted Cohasset-Panuke, the province's first offshore development, which ended production in 1999 after 45MMbbl had been recovered.
There are two further offshore projects, Encana's Deep Panuke gas field development which supplies Canada and the US.
The 892 billion cubic feet field began production in 2013, with peak production of 300 million cubic feet per day.
ExxonMobil and Shell have produced from the six fields of Sable project since 1999.
The Venture, South Venture, Thebaud, North Triumph, Glenelg and Alma have a 25 year life predicted, recovering 3Tcf and 74.8MMbbl of condensate.
Shell is exploring the nearby Shelburne Basin, and not without some headaches.
It has taken delivery of a replacement riser at the Port of Halifax, however it is unable to install the riser until it can explain exactly how it lost the first 2000m-long riser during storms on March 5 to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.
The riser tensioner system, connecting the drilling ship Stena IceMAX rig to the wellhead, dropped to the ocean floor during drilling of Cheshire-1.
The company was nearly finished drilling the first of two planned wells about 225 kilometres off Nova Scotia's coast, however, drilling has been suspended ever since the incident.
Shell acquired six exploration licences in the Shelburne Basin in 2012-13 and has pledged to spend up to $1 billion on exploration.