HMDC pleads guilty to Hibernia oil leak charges

The operator of the Hibernia platform, Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd. (HMDC), has pled guilty to a charge stemming from a pollution incident that occurred in late December 2013.

The Canadian offshore oil & gas regulator, Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) said last Friday that the company would pay a fine of $80,000 under the Accord Act.

C-NLOPB added that the HMDC was ordered to pay an additional $170,000 into the Environmental Damages Fund.

This incident, according to the regulator, was contrary the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations and HMDC thereby committed an offense under the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act.

At the time of the incident, an oil sheen was observed while petroleum was being loaded onto a tanker from the Hibernia Platform. Operations ceased but resumed later without ensuring that it could be done without causing pollution.

The sheen was noticed near the North single anchor loading (SAL) base during a tanker loading on the South SAL. During an ROV inspection of the North SAL on December 30, 2013, it was confirmed that the North hose end valve (HEV) was leaking. On January 18, 2014, the North SAL HEV was made secure by installing a blind flange across the valve until it could be recovered and replaced.

Subsequent inspection of the North SAL HEV, recovered in March 2014, determined that it was likely compromised by a damaged seal.

According to C-NLOPB’s statement from January 2014, HMDC estimated that the volume leaked from the Northern offshore loading system was around 6,000 liters.

C-NLOPB Officers investigated the circumstances surrounding the event with search warrants executed offshore at the Hibernia Platform, and onshore at the St. John’s offices of HMDC. Several witnesses were also interviewed during the investigation.

Based on the facts obtained in the course of the investigation, charges against HMDC were raised in court on May 22, 2015.

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