Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has two producing natural gas projects and several companies are actively exploring offshore.

Quick facts

  • $8.5 billion - in capital spending by the industry over the last 20 years
  • $1.9 billion - estimated royalty payments to the province from offshore production between 1999 - 2015
  • $19 million - in payments the industry made for use of Nova Scotia's oil and gas resources in fiscal 2015/16
  • 120 trillion - cubic feet of natural gas in offhsore resource potential*
  • 8 billion - barrels of oil in resource potential*

*Source: Government of Nova Scotia


Nova Scotia's first offshore well was drilled in 1967, with the first offshore discovery was at Sable Island in 1971. To date, about 127 exploration wells have been drilled offshore Nova Scotia, yielding 23 significant discoveries.

Canada's first offshore project, Cohasset-Panuke, commenced oil production in 1992 and ceased production in December 1999. It produced more than 44 million barrels of crude, was a significant contributor to the Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canadian economies, and helped to build offshore oil infrastructure on Canada's East Coast.

Nova Scotia currently has two producing natural gas projects the Sable Offshore Energy Project and Deep Panuke. In 2015, these two projects combined, produced about 350 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The Sable Offshore Energy Project was the first offshore natural gas development in Canadian history and the first commercial development of significant gas reserves in Atlantic Canada. Deep Panuke commenced production in 2013.

The government of Nova Scotia estimates Nova Scotia's offshore resource potential at more than eight billion barrels of oil and 120 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Significant exploration programs are also underway by Shell Canada.


Petroleum exploration has been conducted in Nova Scotia's onshore sedimentary basins since the 1860s. The establishment of the offshore pipeline to the New England market in 1999 rejuvenated onshore petroleum exploration in Nova Scotia. The province currently has five conventional oil and gas exploration agreements, one coal gas exploration agreement, two coal gas production agreements and one conventional oil and gas production lease, in place.

More than 125 exploration wells have been drilled in various parts of the province, with small amounts of petroleum discovered in about one-third of these wells. To date, there has not been any commercial production of onshore oil or natural gas resources in Nova Scotia.

The Government of Nova Scotia announced in September 2014 that it is prohibiting the use of high volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas extraction until more research is conducted. The decision was made following the conclusion of an independent review and public engagement process to explore the social, economic, environmental, and health implications of hydraulic fracturing practices.