Nfld. & Labrador

Spill of bacteria-limiting agent from SeaRose FPSO, says C-NLOPB

Nearly 1,100 litres of an anti-microbial agent spilled from the SeaRose FPSO on Thursday, the latest in a string of incidents involving the SeaRose.

Nearly 1,100 litres of X-Cide 450 spilled on Thursday, Husky Energy says

Thursday's spill is the latest in a string of incidents involving the SeaRose floating platform. (CBC)

Nearly 1,100 litres of an anti-microbial agent spilled from the SeaRose FPSO early Thursday morning, according to an incident bulletin released by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

Husky Energy reported an unauthorized discharge of 1,098 litres of X-Cide 450 from the SeaRose, along with 1.9 million litres of water, in the White Rose oil field about 350 kilometres southeast of St. John's.

This is the latest in a string of incidents for Husky Energy and the SeaRose. 

Husky was responsible for the province's largest oil spill in November 2018, when a failed flowline connector dumped 250,000 litres of oil into the ocean, creating a slick nearly the size of Fogo Island. 

An iceberg passed within less than 180 metres of the FPSO in March 2017. 

In regard to the latest incident, Husky said in a statement, the "SeaRose has two pumps to apply the anti-bacterial agent. The wrong pump was activated, adding the agent into the system that discharges seawater from the vessel."

They said they immediately shut down the pump and are investigating the incident. 

Husky said they are allowed to discharge the agent, which limits bacteria growth in cargo tanks and the water injection system. However, their statement said the concentration of agent was higher than permitted. The oil company also said they use the agent to prevent sulphur and sour gas from building up.

The C-NLOPB's CEO Scott Tessier said the early indications are that the spill was caused by human error.

"I don't want to speculate but the early indication, as I said, is that somebody made a mistake," Tessier said by phone Friday.

As for the environmental impact, Tessier said that's still not clear.

"Certainly there is a high degree of dilution in the circumstances surrounding this discharge," he said. 

"The early indication is that the dilution might have been a helpful factor in mitigating against any significant environmental impact, but we'll wait and see."

No injuries, production continues

Meanwhile, the C-NLOPB said no workers were injured during the incident, the oil wells are safe and that production on the SeaRose is continuing. 

They also said no wildlife has been affected by the spill, at this time. Wildlife, though, is being monitored from the SeaRose and by the Skandi Vinland. 

According to information on Health Canada's website, the microbiocide is poisonous, and harmful to humans and corrosive. It can cause skin burns and irreversible damage to the eyes, is harmful if inhaled and could be fatal if swallowed. 

The C-NLOPB says X-Cide 450 is commonly used by the petroleum industry and contains methanol and glutaraldehyde.

The C-NLOPB has been in contact with government, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Tessier said the regulator will review the cause of the accident, implement corrective measures and decide on possible enforcement action.

"An operator's past behaviour and track record certainly do factor into our deliberations in that regard," said Tessier.

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