Oil companies making proposal to resume night flights

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says it will soon present its plan to the C-NLOPB.
Oil companies say they are close to making a new proposal for the resumption of helicopter flights at night to the Newfoundland offshore. (C-NLOPB )

Oil companies are poised to make a new proposal for the resumption of night flights to offshore oil sites.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said it will present its plan to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board in the coming weeks.


It involves a stipulation to always land and take off from offshore sites during daylight hours.

The C-NLOPB halted night flights in February 2010, during the inquiry into offshore helicopter safety on the recommendation of Justice Robert Wells. The decision was made following the crash of Cougar Flight 491 a year earlier. 

The board's implementation team recommended that eight action items be undertaken by the offshore operators before they would consider returning to night flying or extending the helicopter flying day.

It's up to the C-NLOPB to decide if and when transporting workers in the dark will be permitted again.

CAPP spokesperson Paul Barnes said those eight items are nearing conclusion, and calls the new pitch a "modest proposal," as the days get shorter and oil exploration moves further offshore.

"Potentially leaving St. John's in the dark, but landing on the offshore platform during daylight … and again potentially leaving the platform during daylight but landing back in St. John's at night," said Barnes. 

"The implementation team from the offshore petroleum board has indicated that once the operators have satisfied the eight conditions that they have imposed, they can potentially resume the night flying in the time frame between 6 a.m. and midnight, but not after midnight," he said.

Paul Barnes of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. (CBC)

"What the industry is planning to ask the petroleum board for is basically a modest proposal to that, and that is the return to night flying — but only during periods when there is a backlog, if there's bad weather, and again, only flying and landing on the offshore platform during the daytime, but potentially landing back in St. John's at night."

Barnes said there has been mixed reaction to the proposal.

"Well, there's been some positive reaction, there's been some negative reaction to it ... and there's still one offshore platform that has yet to undergo this discussion. So we're planning to do that in the next week or two. But for the most part, the consultations are done."

Barnes added consultations are due to conclude in early November.


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