Offshore Environmental Research Award: Nova Scotia Researchers

Posted on October 2nd, in Offshore Energy.

Press Release – October 2, 2013

Tracking blue sharks, listening for whales and detecting natural gas movements through ocean water are all projects funded in the latest round of research grants awarded in Nova Scotia by Encana Corporation with the assistance of the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA).

The grants were awarded under the Deep Panuke Education and Training (E&T) and Research and Development (R&D) Call in environmental research pertaining to Nova Scotia’s offshore petroleum industry.  The Call was launched in November 2012 and was the fourth in the series under the Deep Panuke E&T and R&D Fund.  Total funding available was $400,000, with the Call process managed by OERA.

The Call was open to a range of disciplines including engineering, and physical, life and the social sciences, and in general, sought project concepts and ideas that would:

  • Reduce environmental risk to any aspect of petroleum exploration, development, and production operations offshore Nova Scotia; and/or
  • Develop made-in-Nova Scotia, cost effective technologies, capabilities, systems methodologies, techniques or solutions that contribute to improving environmental performance and efficiencies related to the offshore petroleum industry

A total of 13 applicants responded to the Call with four selected for funding following a review of the applications by an arms length committee. The four funded projects are:

  • At Akoostix Inc. in Dartmouth, NS, a multi-agency team led by Joe Hood plans to make advances in passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), to improve how sounds made by marine mammals such as whales and porpoises, can be better tracked and monitored. To learn more about Akoostix and this research, please visit
  • Stantec Consulting Limited in Dartmouth, NS, led by Dr. John Walker, will collaborate with Dr. Jan Haelssig at Dalhousie University to develop a state-of-the-art model for natural gas release and dispersion from offshore wells.
  • St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS, research led by Dr. David Risk to develop innovative fiber optic sensors for detecting dissolved natural gas near the seafloor. To learn more about this study, please visit
  • Research led by the Ocean Tracking Network and Dr. Fred Whoriskey at Dalhousie University that aims to understand blue shark behaviour and ecosystem health in the Atlantic Ocean. To learn more about the study, visit

OERA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to leading research initiatives, enabling the sustainable development of Nova Scotia’s offshore energy resources through strategic partnerships with academia, government, and industry. OERA’s research specialization is in marine geosciences, marine sound and renewables. Since its establishment in March 2006, OERA has managed ~90 projects and has collaborated with over 200 Canadian and international researchers and students, with a total research investment valued at ~$26 million.

Encana is the owner and operator of the Deep Panuke natural gas project offshore Nova Scotia.  Encana has committed to fund education and training (E&T) and research and development (R&D) to advance the development of Nova Scotia’s offshore petroleum industry. The Deep Panuke E&T and R&D Fund supports research calls as well as individual projects.  To see more details on the Environment Call and to see other examples of projects funded by Encana, please visit: