Oil spills from Hibernia platform offshore Canada

Approximately 12.000 liters of oil (75.48 barrels) is estimated to have been spilled this week from the Hibernia oil platform offshore Newfoundland, Canada.

A photo of the Hibernia slick shared on July 18 by CNLOPB
A photo of the Hibernia slick shared on July 18 by CNLOPB

The oil and gas safety body C-NLOPB on Thursday said it had been notified by the HDMC of an oil slick observed on the water near the Hibernia platform, located 315 kilometers from St. John’s, NL. HMDCis an ExxonMobil led consortium operating the Gravity Base Structure platform.

“All workers are safe and HMDC has undertaken a controlled shut-in of production operations. To date, no affected marine life or seabirds have been seen by government or industry observers in the vicinity of the spill and its trajectory,” C-NLOPB said.

“The C-NLOPB has been in continuous contact with HMDC as well as partnering government agencies, including the National Environmental Emergencies Centre of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) in monitoring the operator’s response and the deployment of resources related to oil recovery. The C-NLOPB is the lead regulatory authority as per the Atlantic Accord Implementation Acts. The response to the incident is the responsibility of HMDC,” C-NLOPB said.

According to the safety body, the initial slick size was estimated by HMDC to be 900m x 20m.

Related: Canada: Near miss incident aboard Hibernia platform

A CCG observer has taken a picture of the slick (see above) on the overflight on July 17, 2019. The slick in the image was estimated to be approximately 4.6 kilometers at its widest part.

Based on visual observations from the overflight of the area conducted on Wednesday, the preliminary estimate of the amount of oil expressed on the water could be in the order of 12,000 liters.

“Satellite imagery taken as of approximately 9 a.m. NST today, July 18, 2019, shows two slicks: the first being 1.71 km2 and 3.27 km in length and the second being 6.64 km2 and 3.78 km in length. A second surveillance flight was deployed this afternoon. HMDC and the C-NLOPB are awaiting results from this and other sources of information to verify the estimated size of the release,” C-NLOPB said.

“HMDC is investigating the cause of the spill, which along with the confirmed amount, will be communicated publicly. The C-NLOPB will determine its next steps as more information becomes available. The safety of workers and environmental protection continue to be our priorities,” C-NLOPB added.

SVSS vessel deployed

In a separate statement on Thursday, Hibernia Management and Development Company said the discharge, a mix of water and, oil occurred during routine activities related to removing water from one of the storage cells.

“A single vessel side sweep (SVSS) has been deployed from a response vessel in the area. SVSS is a boom-type system deployed over the side of a vessel to collect oil from the water. A skimmer is then used to collect the oil from the SVSS and store it on the vessel for disposal in accordance with waste management regulations. Other response activities have included mechanical dispersion, deploying sorbent boom, deploying a tracking buoy, and surveillance flights,” HDMC said.

The Hibernia oil spill comes some nine months after Husky Energy in November 2018 spilled an estimated 250,000 liters of oil from its White Rose field, a spill dubbed the largest ever in Newfoundland’s history.

The incident happened as Husky was working to resume production from the White Rose field on November 16, 2018, which it had shut a day before due to operational safety concerns resulting from severe weather. The spill, dubbed the largest ever in Newfoundland’s history, occurred during the process of resuming operations.

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