Photo: SeaRose FPSO; Source: Husky Energy/Cenovus

Charges laid over massive oil spill offshore Canada

Canadian offshore petroleum regulator has laid charges against Husky Oil Operations, now part of Cenovus, in relation to a huge offshore oil spill in November 2018 in the White Rose field offshore Canada.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has laid three charges against Husky Oil Operations for alleged offences related to a spill of petroleum in the White Rose field in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, on or about 16 November 2018.

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The White Rose field is located approximately 350 km southeast of St. John’s. On the eastern edge of the White Rose field are the North Amethyst, West White Rose, and South White Rose extensions. All producing fields use the SeaRose FPSO. At the time of the incident, it was operated by Husky Energy, which is now part of Cenovus following the merger of the two companies.

In the incident, 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. The incident happened while Husky was preparing to restart production, which had previously been suspended due to adverse weather conditions. According to previous information, it was the largest spill in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history estimated at 250,000 litres.

The regulator said on Monday that two of the three charges were related to contraventions of the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations whereby C-NLOPB Conservation Officers allege that Husky Oil Operations did not ensure that work or activity, that was likely to cause pollution, ceased without delay; and having ceased work or activity that was likely to cause pollution, resumed work without ensuring it could do so safely and without pollution.

The third charge relates to a violation of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act, namely, no person shall cause or permit a spill on or from any portion of the offshore area.

All three contraventions constitute offences pursuant to paragraph 194(1)(a) of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act. The first appearance is scheduled for 23 November 2021 at Provincial Court in St. John’s, NL and the C-NLOPB said it will not be commenting further at this time.

Following flowline repairs and integrity testing, Husky, now Cenovus, was given the approval by C-NLOPB to resume production from two offshore drill centres at the White Rose field in August 2019.