Husky suspends operations at White Rose field, offshore Newfoundland

Operations remain suspended on the SeaRose FPSO vessel following an oil spill at the White Rose field offshore Newfoundland and Labrador last week. ”Husky re-iterated “the safety of personnel and the protection of the environment remains Husky’s number one priority.”

Husky Energy, owners and operators of the vessel, reported the spill on 16 November following its decision to shut in oil production at White Rose the day before in anticipation of severe weather.

The company had shut in oil production at White Rose field Thursday, Nov.15, due to operational safety concerns resulting from severe weather. A shut-in subsea flowline is believed to be the source of the spill, which occurred as Husky prepared to resume production.

Husky said it deployed a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to inspect the flowlines and confirm the source of the leak. Since the original spill, no additional oil has been detected at the surface.

Observation flights and sea vessel sweeps conducted over the weekend indicate that the oil from the original spill is dispersing. The exact volume of oil lost to sea has yet to be confirmed, but initial estimates are that 250 m3 has been released.

The CBC reported that this is believed to be the largest spill in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Waves were recorded at approximately 28 ft at the time SeaRose tried to reconnect and start production.

Scott Tessier, CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), told the CBC on 19 November that the board will investigate Husky’s decision to attempt reconnection in such rough weather.

He said that decision did not require approval from the board. C-NLOPB said in a statement that it will also review Husky’s investigation report and its Operations Authorization in light of the spill, and that it will “take whatever enforcement action is deemed appropriate in this incident.”

Surveillance flights and an offshore support vessel have been deployed to help assess the extent of the spill and look for any effects on wildlife. As of 19 November. Husky has deployed a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to inspect the flowlines and confirm the source of the leak.

A wildlife rehabilitation center has been created to help handle the aftermath of the spill, and Husky said it will continue to monitor wildlife in the area along with the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board and Canadian Coast Guard Authorities.

Production operations will not resume until Husky has received approval from the C-NLOPB. Husky said SeaRose production was approximately 20,000 BOPD. Last week’s spill is the second incident involving SeaRose this year.

In January, the C-NLOPB suspended production because of Husky’s handling of an encounter with an iceberg that came within 463 m of the vessel, within an ice exclusion zone.

The board ruled at the time that the FPSO should have disconnected and moved into a safe space; instead, the crew on board was ordered to brace for impact. That incident marked the first time since 2004 that the C-NLOPB had suspended offshore operations.

Siobhan Coady, national resources minister Newfoundland and Labrador, told the CBC that the provincial government will investigate both the spill and the C-NLOPB’s response to it.

Husky Energy says it will begin taking steps to suspend operations of its SeaRose floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO) and associated production facilities offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.

The move comes as the company complies with an order received Wednesday from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB).

It’s related to an iceberg management incident that occurred in March 2017 when the FPSO vessel was housing 84 personnel and storing upwards of 340,000 barrels of oil, more than a third of its capacity.

The berg ended up passing by with more than 180 metres between it and the SeaRose installations. There were no injuries and no damages to the facility or environment. “We could have and should have responded differently according to the pre-existing plan, and we will learn from this incident.

We will work with the C-NLOPB and take the actions necessary to satisfy the regulator,” Husky Energy CEO Rob Peabody said in a statement late Wednesday. Current production from the SeaRose FPSO is approximately 27,000 barrels of oil per day (Husky working interest, before royalties).

“The suspension of operations will take place in a safe, controlled and environmentally prudent manner, while maintaining the integrity of the installation,” the company said in its release.

“Husky will undertake all steps necessary to comply with the directives of the C-NLOPB. A number of measures have already been put in place to further improve ice management operations.

Siobhan Coady, the province’s minister of natural resources, is hopeful the issue is resolved “in a timely manner,” but says the suspension is a matter between the regulator and the company, and that the province’s first priority is the health and safety of the employees.

As for the economic impact of a shutdown, Coady stated it “may result in short-term deferral of royalty revenue; however ‎this revenue will be recovered in future as the oil is produced.”

Production from the SeaRose was shut in on Nov. 15, 2018 and remains shut in. Production was approximately 20,000 bopd (Husky working interest, before royalties).

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