Shell Canada's new parts arrive for Nova Scotia offshore drill

Shell Canada's replacement riser has arrived at the Port of Halifax. The pieces will be assembled to create a long vertical pipe and installed off the Nova Scotia coast.

Shell's 2,000-metre riser still at the bottom of the ocean following March incident

Workers begin assembling lengths of pipe that will form a riser to be lowered to a subsea wellhead. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Shell Canada's replacement riser has arrived at the Port of Halifax, however the company's offshore exploration remains on hold until it uncovers how it lost the first one.

A riser is a specialized vertical pipe that connects a surface ship to a wellhead on the sea floor. On March 5, rough weather caused a drill ship hired by Shell Canada to drop a roughly 2,000-metre riser to the bottom of the ocean.

At the time of the incident, crews had disconnected the pipe from the bottom and had taken steps to prevent any oil or drilling fluid from escaping.

Shell Canada's riser is still laying at the bottom, while at least eight long Styrofoam sheaths have broken off the pipe and floated away.

The company was nearly finished drilling the first of two planned exploratory wells, searching for oil and natural gas about 225 kilometres off Nova Scotia's coast. However, drilling has been suspended ever since the March 5 incident.

"Until such time as the board is satisfied that operations can proceed safely, drilling will remain suspended," said Kathleen Funke, spokesperson for the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

Pipes were unloaded from a cargo ship, transferred to a flat bed truck and onto the Port of Halifax wharf. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Nonetheless, Shell is preparing for when operations can resume.

Dozens of segments of pipe were offloaded Monday morning at a north-end Halifax pier. The pipes will eventually be shipped out to the drill site, fitted together vertically, and lowered down to replace the original riser.

Shell Canada officials say they are still investigating the cause of the March 5 incident.

About the Author

Brett Ruskin


Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.