New offshore research funding announced

Published: June 26th 2018

“Combining genomics with geology has the potential to provide us with the clearest picture yet of petroleum deposits in Nova Scotia’s offshore.”

Andy Stone, Director of Business Development, Genome Atlantic


The Nova Scotia Department of Energy recently announced a four-year, $11.8-million commitment to the second phase of its Offshore Growth Strategy.  In his remarks at a press conference held to outline details of the offshore research strategy, Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan noted four main components of Phase Two of the research strategy:

  • Collecting core samples and high-resolution mapping information of the ocean bottom and sub-bottom;
  • Working with Morocco to reconstruct seismic images from 200 million years ago when Morocco and Nova Scotia separated;
  • Updating the Play Fairway Analysis with new information from offshore drilling results; and
  • Building new areas of research and strengthening existing research capacity.


Genome Atlantic’s partnership in the announcement reflected the Province’s recognition of genomics as an important continuing element in its offshore research strategy. Minister MacLellan shared the Genome Atlantic video “Reducing the Risk” as an example of a leading-edge innovative approach to offshore development.


The video documents “Microbial Genomics for De-risking Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration in Nova Scotia” (link to story )a $4.9-million, three-year project that is using genomics to help create a comprehensive snapshot of Nova Scotia’s offshore with the goal of making it more attractive to oil and gas companies.


Andy Stone, Genome Atlantic’s Director of Business Development who spoke at the event, explained that, “In simple terms, the genomics research is tracking microorganisms that eat underwater petroleum. These microorganisms cluster in petroleum seeps that originate from under the seafloor. Combining genomics with geology has the potential to provide us with the clearest picture yet of petroleum deposits in Nova Scotia’s offshore.”


Stone noted that the genomics work builds on the successful Play Fairway Analysis completed in 2011 which led to $2-billion in expenditure commitments for offshore exploration.  “Our genomics work will contribute to further reduce investment risk for prospective petroleum exploration companies in Nova Scotia’s frontier basin.”


He thanked the Department of Energy for their support and acknowledged the many partners in the current genomics research project including the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA), Genome Canada, Genome Alberta, University of Calgary, Saint Mary’s University, Mitacs Canada, and NRCan/Geological Survey of Canada who contributed to the overall research program.

He added that Genome Atlantic is currently building additional partnerships with OERA, Stantec and Dalhousie University on an offshore tidal energy project that will use environmental genomics (eDNA) to detect the presence of marine species around tidal energy installations. (Stay tuned for more information on this project in a future issue of Sequence e-bulletin.)