OERA Annual Report – 2015-2016

2016 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA). Since its inception OERA has delivered on a mandate to produce scientific research initiatives that contribute to risk reduction and support investment decisions in our offshore energy sector. It’s also helped resolve critical knowledge gaps in marine related environmental, tidal and petroleum issues.

With support from the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, OERA has invested more than $32 million to offshore research projects since 2006. This investment has paid off in the form of $2.1 billion in petroleum exploration commitments. It’s also given the province the confidence to commit to developing 300 MW of tidal power. When completed, this development is expected to produce $1.7 billion in GDP and add 22,000 jobs to Nova Scotia by 2040. Along with jobs and economic growth, achieving Nova Scotia’s tidal energy goal will reduce our carbon footprint by about 25 million tons.

As OERA enters its second decade, the organization looks forwards to continuing to collaborate with its partners on research opportunities that benefit all Nova Scotia by allowing for the sustainable development of our marine energy resources.

To view a copy of our Annual Report, please CLICK HERE [PDF]

To view some of our researcher profiles, stories and videos, please see below.

Nick Osbourne, Black Rock Tidal Power – Researcher Profile

On the cutting edge of tidal energy research, 27-year-old Nick Osbourne of Black Rock Tidal Power is putting his training as a mechanical engineer to work here in Nova Scotia. He’s currently overseeing the design of a gravity base to link together an array of tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy. Nick was able to gain valuable experience in his chosen field thanks to support from OERA. Today, he sees a bright future in Nova Scotia. “There is a lot of positive thinking from the public and from the government, and from our universities and colleges. I definitely foresee tidal energy being in the long run future of Nova Scotia,” says Nick.

View Nick’s video here

Helen Lau, Dalhousie University – Researcher Profile

Dr. Helen Lau of Dalhousie University is conducting research focusing on the geological history and evolution of the continental margin – work that is helping to de-risk petroleum exploration efforts in offshore Nova Scotia. She says OERA funding support is critical for projects like hers which provide peer reviewed academic research the petroleum industry can rely on. “Right now the industry is doing exploration with very little knowledge of what the tectonic history of the Nova Scotia Margin is.

If we can provide a better understanding of tectonic development that would really help them,” she says.

View Helen Lau’s video here

Andrew MacRae, Saint Mary’s University – Research Profile

Dr. Andrew MacRae of Saint Mary’s University was brought onto the Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) by OERA, and by studying microfossils (tiny fossilized particles like pollen and spores) was able to help locate valuable reserves of oil and gas located off the shores of Nova Scotia. This has given Nova Scotia a competitive advantage in the highly lucrative offshore exploration industry. As a result of the PFA, Shell began drilling two deep-water wells in the Shelburne Basin in 2015 as part of a $1 billion commitment. Similarly, BP has launched an exploration program in the Scotian Basin worth just over $1 billion. “It’s a worldwide game they’re playing and you have to show that your particular area is well understood, and there’s this untested potential there,” he explains.

View Andrew’s video here

Anna Redden, Acadia University – Research Profile

Dr. Anna Redden’s lifelong relationship with the Bay of Fundy helps guide her work as a professor and marine ecologist. As the Director of the Fundy Energy Research Network (FERN) and the Acadia Tidal Energy Institute (ATEI), she’s also built a research community that is having an impact on the tidal sector here in Nova Scotia and abroad. Now, with support from OERA, Anna’s using underwater microphones and sonar to identify and study the movements of marine life in the currents in and around turbines. “I have a passion for this water body. I grew up in Windsor on the Avon River, and I use to play in the mudflats as a kid… then I studied at Acadia. A lot of my research experience is right here in this Minas Basin. So I guess I feel very rooted here, and I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility.”

View Anna’s video here

Chris Sangster, Saint Mary’s University – Research Profile

Chris Sangster is starting the Master of Applied Sciences in Geology program at Saint Mary’s University with the hopes of staying in Nova Scotia to work in the oil and gas sector. With the help of the OERA Student Research Travel Program, he’ll get a headstart by studying with world renowned geoscientists at Beicip-Franlab in France. Chris’s Master’s project will also help inform future exploration by providing a picture of what the Scotian Basin looked like 140 million years ago. “It should make it easier to de-risk exploration and it should make it easier to pick out potential reservoir sandstones and potential intervals that will be new areas of interest that could be looked at,” he says.

For more information on the OERA Student Research Travel Program, please CLICK HERE.

View Chris’s video here

Dominic Groulx, Dalhousie University – Research Profile

Dalhousie University’s Dr. Dominic Groulx is using his Laboratory of Multi-phase Thermal Engineering to solve many of the novel challenges facing the tidal energy sector. With support from OERA, he’s currently researching the potential structural impact of the Bay of Fundy on tidal turbines. Dr. Groulx is also helping to develop the future of Nova Scotia’s tidal energy industry by recruiting students into the field. “Now we are graduating students who are tidal researchers. Those will be the researchers who drive the field for the next 40 years. Those are the people we want driving that field, because they picked it,” he says.

View Dominic’s video here

Nick Fyffe, Cape Sharp Tidal – Research Profile

Marine Engineer Nick Fyffe thrives on challenges and has brought his innovative approach to Nova Scotia’s tidal energy industry. He’s currently overseeing the deployment and installation of two in-stream turbines in the Bay of Fundy expected to generate four megawatts of energy and lower carbon dioxide emissions by 6000 metric tonnes per year. With the help of OERA, Nick is also coordinating research that will answer key questions required to ensure tidal energy’s future sustainability and success. “For 100 years people have been trying to harness the tides here, and nobody was able to do it, but we’re on the cusp now,” he says. “OERA have really been a fundamental part of our projects thus far.”

View Nick’s video here