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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Nova Scotia to spend $12M over four years on offshore oil and gas data: source

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government will announce it will spend $12 million over four years to fund scientific data on potential oil and natural gas opportunities in its offshore, The Canadian Press has learned.

A source familiar with details of the announcement said Premier Stephen McNeil will reveal on Tuesday the funding for geological research that is aimed at helping convince energy companies there are undiscovered pockets of hydrocarbons off Nova Scotia's shores. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The province's Energy Department has a research program called the Play Fairway Analysis that provides seismic data and other geological information to industry players looking for offshore oil and gas.

The government has said that the program has played a role in persuading BP and Shell Canada (TSX:SHC) to launch major exploration projects.

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board granted BP exploration rights last November to four deepwater blocks about 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax after it submitted a $1-billion bid.

Shell Canada has also been given exploration rights to four parcels — two in the Sable Island area and two in deepwater — as part of a $970-million venture.

The company has completed 3D seismic imaging off Nova Scotia's southwestern shore and last October it said the earliest it could begin exploratory drilling in late 2015.

The announcement Tuesday will come days after the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board announced it is seeking new bids to explore parcels of its offshore territory. The deadline for those bids is Oct. 30.

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