Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. offshore oil rig damaged

Twenty-one people were flown to St. John's after an offshore oil rig was damaged by an equipment malfunction near the White Rose oil field Saturday afternoon.
The GSF Grand Banks rig near Marystown in an archival photograph. (CBC)

Twenty-one people were flown to St. John's after an offshore oil rig was damaged by an equipment malfunction near the White Rose oil field Saturday afternoon.

The Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board said the incident happened while the GSF Grand Banks was working in the North Amethyst satellite field.

The board said no one was injured and there was no environmental damage because of the incident.

Crews were lifting a piece of equipment called a blowout preventer when a cylinder failed and that caused the load to shift in its carrier, according to the C-NLOPB.

A statement issued by the offshore industry regulator said the rig itself is stable.

Offshore officials are assessing the extent of the damage to both the rig and the equipment.

A blowout preventer sits on top of the well on the sea floor to prevent oil from spilling. A properly functioning blowout preventer can shut a well opening.

Last year's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began after a blowout preventer failed to stop oil from leaking when a BP drilling rig exploded in April.

The statement said the blowout preventer will not be returned to service until repairs and testing are carried out.

It's the second incident at the GSF Grand Banks since April.

The board said about 4,000 litres of synthetic mud spilled  at the GSF Grand Banks on April 8.

Husky Energy reported the spill. The rig was working at the White Rose field.

"Operations were suspended when the incident occurred and clean-up response was initiated. It currently appears that little, if any, mud was spilled to sea," the board said in a statement posted to its website.

The board said a survey from a nearby ship "observed no sheen or discoloration on the surface" of the ocean.

Drilling mud is used to lubricate drill pipes and to balance pressure in the reservoir. The C-NLOPB describes synthetic-based mud as "a food-grade oil of low toxicity."

In late March, there was a spill of nearly 26,000 litres of drilling mud at the Henry Goodrich rig, which sparked controversy  because it was not reported publicly for three days.

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