Hebron platform; Source: ExxonMobil

Probe into incident with ‘potential for fatality’ at ExxonMobil’s Hebron platform underway

ExxonMobil Canada Properties, a subsidiary of the U.S.-headquartered energy giant ExxonMobil, has launched an investigation into the root cause of a near-miss incident at the Hebron platform offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hebron platform; Source: ExxonMobil

According to the Canadian offshore regulator, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), ExxonMobil has reported that a hydraulic pin puller failed on 28 May 2023, while completing maintenance on the knuckle boom crane on the Hebron platform using the hydraulic pin puller.

This resulted in the puller rod being projected approximately 19 metres across the pipe deck striking the top of the northwest pipe deck handrail, and then dropping 21 metres to the deck below, landing on a walkway. The rod weighed approximately 6.8 kg. The operator immediately ceased work in the area.

The regulator highlights that there were no injuries, however, the incident had “the potential for fatality.” Moreover, no barriers were in place for the path the rod travelled to the handrail, or for the drop path to the deck and walkway below. As ExxonMobil has initiated an investigation into this incident, the C-NLOPB is monitoring the company’s investigation.

Located offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, the Hebron oil field is situated in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin 340 kilometres southeast of St. John’s. The field, which was first discovered in 1980, is estimated to produce more than 700 million barrels of recoverable resources. The water depth at the Hebron field is 93 metres. The site consists of the Hebron, West Ben Nevis, and Ben Nevis fields.

The Hebron platform consists of a stand-alone gravity-based structure, which supports an integrated topsides deck that includes living quarters and drilling and production facilities. The platform has a storage capacity of 1.2 million barrels of oil.

The ExxonMobil-operated Hebron platform started production in November 2017. Since then, there have been several safety incidents on the platform. One of the more recent ones occurred in September 2021 when the south intervention deck auxiliary hoist hook fell five-six metres to the deck during preparations for an upcoming lift.

Another one took place in August 2021 when a worker on the Avalon Sea support vessel was injured while supporting activities associated with lifeboat winch load testing on the platform.