SeaRose shut down after Husky reprimanded for iceberg close call

Husky Energy says in a statement issued late Tuesday that it will comply with the order, and will learn from the incident.

'We could have and should have responded differently,' says Husky CEO

The incident involving the SeaRose floating platform happened in March 2017. (CBC)

The board that regulates activity in the oilfields off Newfoundland and Labrador has suspended operations for Husky Energy's SeaRose FPSO because of how it handled an incident with a too-close iceberg last March. 

"[The SeaRose FPSO] should have disconnected and moved into safe space, away from the iceberg. They did not do that," says Scott Tessier, chair and CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB).

"At one point, the 84 crew on board were ordered to muster and brace for impact," he added.

There were also about 340,000 barrels of crude oil onboard at the time of the incident on March 29, 2017, according to a media advisory issued by the C-NLOPB late Wednesday afternoon.

The iceberg came within 463 metres of the SeaRose, within an ice exclusion zone. It did not hit the SeaRose and there were no injuries, environmental damage or damage to the facility.

'Lacks full confidence'

This is the first time since 2004 that the C-NLOPB has suspended operations in the offshore. 

The board said the suspension is happening now — almost 10 months after the incident — because of the preliminary report findings, which are:

  • Husky did not follow its Ice Management Plan (IMP).
  • Onshore senior management did not ensure the IMP was followed.
  • The offshore manager failed to disconnect, as per the IMP.
Scott Tessier, C-NLOPB's chair and CEO, says Husky needs to 'rebuild our confidence' in order for the suspension to be lifted. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"Those findings have given the board cause for concern and lack of confidence that the operator will adhere to its emergency response plans," Tessier said.

We could have and should have responded differently ... we will learn from this incident.- Rob Peabody, CEO Husky Energy

In a statement late Wednesday afternoon, Husky said it is taking steps to suspend work at the SeaRose FPSO.

"We could have and should have responded differently according to the pre-existing plan, and we will learn from this incident. We will work with the C-NLOPB and take the actions necessary to satisfy the regulator," said CEO Rob Peabody.

"A number of measures have already been put in place to further improve ice management operations. The safety of personnel and the protection of the environment remains Husky's number one priority."

'Ball is in their court'

The suspension will remain in place until "corrective" actions are taken by Husky, the regulator said.

"It really depends on the operator's response — the ball is in their court," Tessier added.

"The operator needs to come in and convince us that they take these findings seriously and to rebuild our confidence that they are capable of safe and environmentally-responsible operations." 

SeaRose FPSO is a floating production, storage and offloading vessel located in the White Rose oil and gas field, approximately 350 kilometres east of St. John's.

The C-NLOPB says it 'lacks full confidence' that Husky would take appropriate action in an emergency situation, following the close call with the iceberg. (CBC)

At the time of the incident, Husky said specific measures were taken to ensure the SeaRose wasn't damaged.

That included shutting in, or reducing, production at the facility and flushing the flowlines with seawater. Steps were also taken to ensure the SeaRose could disconnect in minimal time, if required.

The province's Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady said in her own statement that she hopes the issue is resolved prudently and in a timely manner.

"The shutdown may result in short term deferral of royalty revenue; however ‎this revenue will be recovered in future as the oil is produced," said Coady.

Husky said the SeaRose was producing roughly 27,000 barrels of oil a day prior to the suspension order.

With files from Geoff Bartlett