The area includes more than 13,000km² and the Shell was the sole bidder on the properties, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said.

The Laurentian Sub-basin is in the Atlantic, about 210 miles southwest of St. John’s, reports Reuters.

There is no oil or gas production from the region, however Newfoundland currently has three offshore oil projects in the Jeanne d’Arc basin southeast of St. John’s.

Shell spokesman Stephen Doolan revealed to the newsgroup that the company has yet to determine if its new exploration blocks could contain oil or natural gas.

"Right now we are in the early stages and we are going to have to seismic and other technical work," said Doolan.

"This will help us determine whether we are looking for oil or gas."

Meantime, a onsortium made up of Husky Energy, Suncor Energy and Repsol has also won an exploration parcel in the Flemish Pass east of the Jeanne d’Arc basin from the agency for a commitment of $20m.