Nfld. & Labrador

Husky announces next phase in plan to return White Rose field to full production

Husky Energy plans to take another step this weekend in the process of resuming full production at the White Rose oil field, more than six months after the spill.

Husky resumed production from its central drill centre in January, after an incident that resulted in a spill

This graphic illustrates the layout of the White Rose oil field in Newfoundland's offshore. November's oil spill occurred after a flowline connector failed at the South White Rose Extension. (Husky)

Husky Energy plans to take another step this weekend in the process of resuming full production at the White Rose oil field.

This follows an incident more than six months ago that resulted in 250,000 litres of oil, water and gas spilling into the Atlantic Ocean.

Husky resumed production from its central drill centre in January, and the damaged connector was retrieved from the South White Rose extension in March.

Husky will now attempt to flush all remaining hydrocarbons from the flowlines connecting the SeaRose production vessel to South White Rose, the southern drill centre and North Amethyst.

A spokesperson said that process could be completed Saturday and Sunday, if weather and sea conditions permit.

"Careful planning and preparation means that we are now ready to move ahead with the next phases of activity," Husky stated in a Friday news release.

The process involves injecting water into the flowlines so the hydrocarbons can be recovered by the SeaRose.

This will be followed by testing to ensure the integrity of the flowlines and eventually a return to full production.

The province's regulatory board, the C-NLOPB, has accepted Husky's plan. 

According to Husky Energy, this connector was the culprit in the spill. (Husky Energy)

The flushing is necessary because when production was shut down in November, oil, gas and water remained in the flowlines.

"While we feel that the risk of a spill during this process is low, we will be prepared to respond in the event of an incident," a Husky statement reads.

The flushing will be observed by a remote underwater vehicle. An aircraft will be on standby to conduct surveillance flights if necessary, and a support vessel equipped with response equipment will be in the area.

As a further precaution, the flushing will be carried out during daylight hours.

Once the flowlines have been filled with water, Husky said it plans to isolate North Amethyst and South White Rose, and carry out leak testing at the southern drill centre.

The flowline connector at the southern drill centre is a different model from the one that failed at the South White Rose Extension, according to Husky.

"Pending a successful leak test, we would seek regulatory approval to resume production from the southern drill centre," Husky stated.

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