Canada’s Husky Energy is in the process of restarting operations at the SeaRose floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel offshore Canada following a huge offshore oil spill in November 2018.
The first well was brought online on the afternoon of January 30, 2019, according to a statement by Husky.
“We have worked with our certifying authority to satisfy ourselves the SeaRose FPSO and associated equipment is ready to safely operate the Central Drill Centre (CDC). The operations at the CDC will be restarted in a phased approach,” the company said.
To remind, production was shut in at the White Rose field Thursday, November 15 due to operational safety concerns resulting from severe weather. Once conditions had returned to normal operating parameters on Friday, November 16, and safety checks were completed, the process of resuming operations started. The release occurred as the company was in the process of resuming operations.
A remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) survey has shown the release came from a subsea flowline connection. This survey did not observe any oil at the source and, since Friday, November 16, no additional oil has been observed at the surface. The oil released Friday, November 16 had dispersed. No sheens have been observed since November 18. The spill was believed to be the largest in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.
Approvals from offshore regulator
In a statement on Wednesday, January 30 Canada’s offshore regulator, C-NLOPB, said it had issued approvals to Husky Energy for plugging of the flowline and recovery of flowline connector.
For the past several weeks, C-NLOPB staff, along with officials from partner agencies, have been reviewing and discussing with Husky Energy various draft plans submitted for plugging of the flowline and recovery of the failed flowline connector at the South White Rose Extension Drill Center. On January 28, Husky’s finalized plan was approved by the C-NLOPB.
The approved plan has several mitigations. Namely, operations are to be conducted during daylight hours and during specific weather conditions that include reduced sea states; two Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are to be deployed for work and observation purposes; aerial and vessel based surveillance are to be in place, prior to the start of operations; Tier 1 Oil Spill Response capability is to be deployed and in place for immediate emergency response, in the event there is a release of oil during plugging and recovery operations; wildlife surveillance is to be in place, including qualified wildlife observers (for both birds and marine mammals) onboard each vessel authorized for the operation; a C-NLOPB Conservation Officer, along with staff from the Canadian Coast Guard and the Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC), are to be onboard authorized vessels to observe operations; and C-NLOPB staff will also be attending Husky’s onshore monitoring of the recovery operation.
The C-NLOPB continues its investigation into the mid-November incident.
Resumption of production
The regulator also said that flushing and leak testing of the flowlines in the Central Drill Center (CDC) was successfully completed between January 17-20, following verification by the Certifying Authority. On January 29, the C-NLOPB approved resumption of production operations from the CDC only, starting on January 30. The regulator said that Husky was to ensure that certain key elements of resuming production take place during daylight hours.
The CDC is on an independent loop to the SeaRose and does not feature the same type of flowline connector as the South White Rose Extension (SWRX) Drill Center. It is not affected by the situation at the SWRX, where the mid-November spill occurred.