Nova Scotia

Shell Canada can abandon pipe and riser on ocean floor off N.S.

Shell Canada can leave two kilometres of pipe and a giant marine riser on the ocean floor after accidentally dropping them off the coast of Nova Scotia in 2016.

2 km of pipe, 115-tonne piece of equipment sank during a 2016 storm; regulators say it can stay sunk

Two kilometres of pipe like this was dropped on the ocean floor last spring. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Shell Canada can leave two kilometres of pipe and a giant marine riser on the ocean floor after accidentally dropping them off the coast of Nova Scotia in 2016.

The pipe and lower marine riser package had been used by the Stena IceMAX, a specialized ship hired by Shell Canada, to drill an exploratory well to search for oil.

In bad weather and rough seas on March 5, 2016, the riser and pipes disconnected from the ship. Shell argued it was safest and easiest to leave them where they fell.

Shell Canada's lower marine riser package, a two-storey-tall device, plunged to the bottom of the ocean and now is buried beneath 40 to 50 tonnes of silt. (Stantec)

On Thursday, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board agreed. Along with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada, it reviewed the case and said based on the documentation Shell provided, leaving them underwater doesn't break any laws or regulations that CNSOPB enforces.

"DFO have concluded that Shell Canada's decision to leave the riser on the seafloor will not result in serious harm to fish, which is prohibited under subsection 35(1) of the Fisheries Act, nor will it contravene sections 32, 33, or 58 of the Species at Risk Act," CNSOPB said.

The environment department said Shell will need to get a disposal at sea permit to abandon the pipe and riser.