Nfld. & Labrador

Offshore board OK's Husky's plan to retrieve faulty connector blamed for oil spill

The province's offshore regulator has approved Husky Energy's plan to plug a flowline after an oil spill last November.

Production still shut down after 250,000-litre spill in November

About 250,000 litres of a mixture of oil, gas and water spilled from a flowline to the FPSO SeaRose seen here in Belfast in 2013.

Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore regulator has approved Husky Energy's plan to plug a flowline and recover a failed connector at the southern extension of the White Rose field after an oil spill in November.

The plan, which will use remotely operated vehicles, is part of Husky's remediation work after the largest oil spill in the province's history — an estimated 250,000 litres.

The spill happened when Husky attempting to restart production after it was shut down during a major storm in the Grand Banks.

Husky Energy released this diagram depicting its plans to retrieve the faulty connector. (Husky Energy)

The failed flowline connector is five kilometres from the Sea Rose floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel and is part of a sprawling network of undersea pipes linked to the vessel.

The oil company said Wednesday the plan is to use remotely operated vehicles to unhook the failed connector and plug the line, then bring the connector to shore and try to figure out why it failed.

But doing that comes with the risk of oil escaping into the water, said Trevor Pritchard, Husky's senior vice-president for the Atlantic region.

"As we take those nuts and bolts off, there is a potential for oil to come to surface.… We've prepared for any size of leak. With the oil boom and the equipment that we have, our expectations are that it will be in the terms of litres, tens of litres, if that, to come out of this component," he said.

He said multiple precautions are being taken for that, including having wildlife officers on hand during the operation. 

The Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board approved Husky's plan, provided the company works only during daylight hours and in good weather. 

Specifically, Husky needs 48 hours of favourable conditions, and in a statement said, "We don't have an immediate weather window for this work."

Production on the SeaRose FPSO remains shut down while the petroleum board investigates whether the company followed procedure.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Carolyn Stokes and Bailey White and Stephanie Kinsella