Canada: White Rose wells remain shut-in after large oil spill

All wells at the Husky Energy-operated White Rose field offshore Canada have been shut-in, following a 250,000-liter oil spill at the SeaRose FPSO, dubbed the largest spill in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.

SeaRose FPSO; Photo by: Berardo62; Source: Wikimedia – under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license

According to an incident disclosure released by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) on Friday, the SeaRose FPSO experienced a loss of pressure from a subsea flowline to the South White Rose Drill Center, which is located in the White Rose field, approximately 350 km southeast from St. John’s.

The incident happened while Husky was preparing to restart production, which had been suspended due to Thursday’s weather.

To remind, ExxonMobil was one of the operators to shut-in production at one of its platforms last week following adverse weather conditions offshore Canada. ExxonMobil’s giant Hebron platform is located about 350 kilometers offshore Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital St John’s, in the Jeanne d’Arc basin.

Initial estimates from Husky were that 250 cubic meters (250,000 liters) of oil were released to the environment. The C-NLOPB said that there were no injuries.

The regulator added on Friday that all wells were in a safe state and production operations remained suspended as Husky investigates the cause of the spill. Production operations will not resume until it is safe to do so and until Husky has received approval from the C-NLOPB.


One of the worst storms since 1982 


In an update on Sunday, C-NLOPB said there had been no reports of workers getting hurt during last week’s storm, which was one of the worst this region has seen offshore since the Ocean Ranger disaster in 1982.

The regulator stated that Husky had confirmed that all wells were shut-in and secure and that production and drilling operations were shut-in as well and would remain so for the foreseeable future.

Four surveillance flights and an offshore support vessel have been deployed since Friday to help assess the extent of the spill and look for any effects on wildlife. To date, no affected marine life or seabirds have been seen by government and industry observers in the vicinity of the spill and its trajectory.

The regulator noted that there is no reason to believe based on the flight results that this is an ongoing spill, and it is believed to be a “batch spill”.

Husky will deploy a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) to inspect subsea assets as soon as sea states have subsided to enable safe launching of the ROV. An updated estimate of the volume of the spill and other information should be available following the ROV deployment and subsea inspection.


Investigating the cause 


The C-NLOPB will now carefully review Husky Energy’s ongoing response, the company’s investigation report when ready and its Operations Authorization in light of this incident and the one last year involving the near miss of an iceberg with the SeaRose FPSO. The C-NLOPB issued its final inquiry report into SeaRose FPSO’s near-miss incident with an iceberg in August 2018. The findings and contributing factors of the final inquiry report were the same as those in C-NLOPB’s preliminary report.

Canada’s regulator will also formally investigate the White Rose spill in an effort to confirm the root cause, release the findings of the C-NLOPB investigation to the public as soon as they are available, and take whatever enforcement action is deemed appropriate in this incident.

In the wake of the oil spill at the White Rose field, the C-NLOPB CEO and senior staff have been in contact with other operators in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area. Operations at other facilities will not resume until the C-NLOPB has determined that it is safe to do so.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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