Canadian oil & gas player facing charges over FPSO incident

Canadian oil & gas player facing charges over FPSO incident

Canadian offshore regulator has laid charges against Suncor Energy related to an incident from December 2019 in which a worker was injured on a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel offshore Canada.

Terra Nova FPSO; Source: Suncor

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) informed last Friday it had laid three charges against Suncor Energy on 15 December 2022 for alleged offences related to an injury onboard the Terra Nova FPSO, in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area on 29 December 2019.

The incident happened when the worker on this FPSO fell from a ladder while conducting gas testing and the investigation was launched immediately after. Following the review of Suncor’s investigation report into this incident, an order was issued to the company in January 2020 to ensure a fall protection system was used for all vertical ladders greater than six meters in length that were not fitted with a protective cage at or near the Terra Nova FPSO.

Later that same month, another order was issued and the C-NLOPB started its own formal enquiry into this incident. The production-related operations on the Terra Nova FPSO were previously suspended.

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According to the regulator, all three charges relate to contraventions of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Marine Installations and Structures Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Transitional Regulations.

C-NLOPB Officers allege that Suncor failed to produce a signed written report that complied with the OHS Transitional Regulations; and did not ensure that every employee entering into, exiting from and occupying a confined space wore a safety harness that was securely attached to a lifeline, that was attached to a secure anchor outside the confined space, contrary to the OHS Transitional Regulations.

In addition, it is said that Suncor did not ensure that every employee entering into, exiting from and occupying a confined space followed the procedures and used the protection equipment as referred to in the written report, as required by the OHS Transitional Regulations.

The first appearance is scheduled for 25 January 2023 at Provincial Court in St. John’s. As this matter is now before the courts, the C-NLOPB will not be commenting further at this time, underscored the regulator.

As a reminder, the Terra Nova life extension project was sanctioned in September 2021, following an agreement in principle for restructuring to provide funding. The Asset Life Extension (ALE) project, operated by Suncor with its partners Cenovus and Murphy Oil, is expected to extend production life by approximately ten years, providing an additional 70 million barrels of resource for the partnership.

After maintenance work was carried out in late 2021, the Terra Nova FPSO sailed away from the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador in December 2021 to Ferrol, Spain. Following the external hull work, the FPSO was moved from the shipyard’s drydock to the quayside to complete the remaining work with a focus on “fabric maintenance,” such as rust removal, painting, new insulation and new heat tracing.

In a more recent update, Suncor confirmed that the Terra Nova FPSO was anticipated to sail back to Canada later in the fourth quarter of 2022. The return to production is slated for early 2023.

Located offshore approximately 350 kilometres southeast of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Terra Nova field started production in 2002, using the Terra Nova FPSO, which has the capacity to store nearly a million barrels of oil.