Shell: Severe weather causes drillship incident off Nova Scotia

Severe weather has caused trouble for the oil major Shell’s drilling operations offshore Nova Scotia. Namely, a piece of equipment connecting a rig to the well during drilling fell to the seabed. 

The incident occurred on Saturday, March 5, on the 228-meter DP class 3 drillship Stena IceMAX, owned by the UK company Stena Drilling.

The rig was working on Shell’s Chesire exploration well located in the Shelburne Basin, about 255 kilometres off southwestern Nova Scotia.

According to Shell Canada, the incident happened after the drillship was disconnected from the well in advance of severe weather. Precautionary procedures were taken and completed prior to the severe weather, including isolating the well using the blowout preventer (BOP) system.

Shortly after the rig moved away from the well location, high waves and heave caused the riser tensioner system to release, resulting in the riser and lower marine riser package, which connect the rig to the well during drilling, to fall to the seabed. 

Shell further said that a survey of the BOP using a remotely-operated vehicle confirmed that the BOP was intact and in good condition. There were no injuries and no loss of drilling fluid, the oil company added.

Shell reported the incident to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), a joint agency of the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia responsible for the regulation of petroleum activities, which has dispatched personnel to the drillship as part of its review of this incident.

Shell’s six exploration licenses offshore Nova Scotia cover a contiguous area of 19,845 km². They are located in water depths of between 500 and 3,500 metres. Shell acquired the first four exploration licenses in 2012 and the other two in 2013.

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