Nfld. & Labrador

C-NLOPB orders non-essential workers off oil platforms over COVID-19

Due to precautions over COVID-19, the province's offshore oil industry regulator ordered only essential staff can work on oil rigs, and Husky is halting construction on its West White Rose project in Argentia.

Petroleum Board ordered operators to take action Sunday afternoon

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) regulates the province's offshore, and has ordered all non-essential employees leave their workplaces as soon as possible due to COVID-19 concerns. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry regulator has ordered all non-essential staff be taken off of oil rigs indefinitely, and Husky Energy is halting construction on its West White Rose project in Argentia.

Both measures are in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board order noting it "could create a dangerous situation at any workplace" offshore. 

It made the order Sunday afternoon, shortly before Husky Energy suspended major construction on the West White Rose Project.

"We are taking the steps necessary to keep our people and our construction sites safe," Husky CEO Rob Peabody said in a release issued Sunday.

"These are the right decisions for our people, their families and the community."

The C-NLOPB order states only employees "essential to the safe and environmentally responsible operations" of the facilities are allowed to work in the offshore for the time being, and operators were required to remove non-essential personnel immediately. 

Husky Energy is suspending the West White Rose project over COVID-19 concerns. This photo of the project is dated February 2019. (Husky Energy)

The West White Rose concrete gravity sub-structure was under construction in Argentia. A company official said about 650 people were working at the Argentia site, over day and night shifts.

The Husky Energy official also said the fabrication shop in Marystown, employing about 230 people, is nearing completion of its work and that work will continue so long as it is safe to do so.

Production from the White Rose oil field, located about 350 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland, will continue with "enhanced workforce control measures" to ensure safe operations.

The West White Rose project is the latest megaproject to feel the effects of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. Earlier this month, hundreds of workers were sent home from the Voisey's Bay and Muskrat Falls work sites in Labrador.

Vale said roughly 100 workers will maintain the Voisey's Bay site, while Nalcor did not say how many workers will remain on the Muskrat Falls site.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador