Husky Energy faces six charges over record Newfoundland oil spill

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Graphic showing the flowline connector recovery and flowline plugging program. An investigation found that the leak came from a failed flowline connector in Husky’s SeaRose vessel. Photo Credit: Husky Energy Ltd.

Husky Energy is facing six charges in relation to a 2018 oil spill that was the largest in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.

Over the last month, both Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board each laid three charges against Husky Energy over the vessel leak from November 15, 2018, when an estimated 250,000 litres of crude oil was released into the Atlantic Ocean.

The day before, Husky Energy had shut down production at the White Rose field due to operational safety concerns resulting from severe weather.

An investigation found that the leak came from a failed flowline connector in Husky’s SeaRose vessel. The company explained that the flowline connector involved connects a subsea flowline to the South West White Rose drill centre. “It is designed to release under specified tension (such as a scouring iceberg) to protect drill centre infrastructure,” the company said.

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In July of 2019, Husky installed a replacement for the failed flowline connector with a higher load capacity.

Flowline connector recovery infographic
Flowline connector recovery. Graphic credit: Husky Energy Ltd.

The floating production, storage and offloading vessel is 272 metres long and 45 metres wide, about the size of three football fields. It was located about 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s for the White Rose oil field.

The three charges from Climate Change Canada includes one charge for a contravention of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act, one charge for a contravention of subsection 38(6) of the Fisheries Act and one charge for a contravention of subsection 5.1(1) of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994.

An additional three charges come from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Two of the three charges relate to contraventions of the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations. Conservation Officers allege that Husky Oil Operations Ltd.:

  • 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, which states that no person shall cause or permit a spill on or from any portion of offshore areas.

The first court appearance is scheduled for November 23 at the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s.

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