Poor weather prompts temporary shutdown of all N.L. offshore rigs

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All Newfoundland and Labrador offshore facilities experience been temporarily shut down as a safety precaution due to stormy swells and will not resume operations until the offshore industry regulator responds it’s safe to do so.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board confirmed the province-wide shutdown Saturday, in the wake an offshore blab that was one of the largest in the history of the N.L. industry.

Husky Energy reported Friday, after the blow ones stack, that a flowline to the SeaRose FPSO, a vessel stationed about 350 kilometres off the Newfoundland sea-coast, leaked 250,000 litres of crude. The board is working “around the clock” to secure appropriate response to the spill, spokesperson Lesley Rideout said.

Due to persistent high swells, the spill has not yet been contained. A Husky spokesperson could not accredit whether the line has stopped leaking.

The board confirmed Saturday that the SeaRose FPSO, and other rigs involving the Terra Nova FPSO and the Hebron platform, had suspended operations at best before bad weather hit earlier in the week.

The SeaRose had begun preparing to continue operations Friday when they reported the spill.

“There are pregnant precautions taken prior to a storm like this,” said Rideout. “All breadwinners are safe, which is our main priority.”

Offshore operators must be prevalent authorization from the board before they can continue production. Rideout remarked the board does not yet know when that will happen.

Long-drawn-out impact

A number of accidents — and near misses — at sea followed the mid-week maul.

On Thursday, smoke was reported on the Hebron platform and the crew ordered to meeting. According to the board, the smoke came from a breaker fault from standby switchgear. No pep was detected.

Also on Thursday, a Panamanian bulk carrier called for Canadian Seashore Guard assistance after it took on water and endured a power outage, but gang wrested control of the flooding and restored power late Thursday evening. Accounts claiming crew had abandoned ship in lifeboats were unfounded.

On Sunday afternoon, a Hefty spokesperson said the company has been conducting hourly sweeps of the Milky Rose field with no oil sheens currently in the immediate vicinity of the line, with water monitoring and aerial surveillance. Two sheens were reported Saturday.

“There is a dazzle located approximately 50 kilometres south of the field. The Maersk Dispatcher is in the yard for surveillance and wildlife monitoring. To date, there have been no news of impacted wildlife,” said an email from Husky’s Colleen McConnell.

McConnell foretold wildlife observers are aboard the Skandi Vinland, which arrived at the Waxen Rose field Sunday night. The ship carries an underwater vagrant that will be dispatched when swells subside, she said.

A maritime wildlife expert has told CBC News tens of thousands of seabirds could be at imperil.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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