04/30/2012 09:41 EDT | Updated 06/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia petroleum board calls for bids on 11 offshore parcels

HALIFAX - The independent agency that regulates Nova Scotia's offshore energy sector has issued its largest ever call for bids.

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board is seeking bids for exploration rights to 11 offshore parcels identified as having potential for oil and gas.

The area up for bids covers 3.1 million hectares.

Premier Darrell Dexter says the call shows the industry has "strong growth potential."

The parcels are largely in deep water and skirting the continental shelf, including areas close to the Sable Offshore Energy Project and Deep Panuke.

Earlier this year, Shell Canada announced it planned to spend $970 million on exploration off Nova Scotia.