The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) continues its enhanced oversight of plans and procedures that have been put in place by operators to respond to the risks of COVID-19 and protect the health of offshore workers. At the time of issuance of this update, no worker in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area has tested positive for COVID-19.
Ongoing COVID-19-Specific Measures
In an effort to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to an offshore facility, operators with a current drilling or production Operations Authorization from the C-NLOPB have incorporated a 14-day self-isolation protocol for workers, plus a negative COVID-19 test prior to travelling offshore. Screening protocols at the Heliport are continuing, such as screening for potential exposure and symptoms (including temperature checks) prior to travel offshore, increased cleaning protocols for the Heliport, airframe and marine vessels and out-of-province self-isolation requirements consistent with public health requirements.
Physical distancing, personal hygiene and enhanced cleaning protocols are also in place on all facilities offshore to reduce the risk of transmission. Operators are continuously monitoring workers for symptoms while on each facility, including daily temperature checks, effective use of masks in accommodations areas and other indoor spaces and are conducting table top exercises. Operators remain engaged with their workforce as health and safety, including mental health, continue to be top priorities.
Operators, the C-NLOPB, government officials, Atlantic Offshore Medical Services and provincial health authorities will engage with one another in any suspected case of COVID-19, if a worker on an offshore facility meets the provincial screening recommendations for testing. In the event of a suspected case, all offshore contacts identified from contact tracing, including the suspected case, must self-isolate while waiting to be transferred onshore for testing. In the event of a positive test, further contact tracing, self-isolations, monitoring and other appropriate measures would occur, under the direction of Public Health.
Public Heath has confirmed there is no requirement for offshore workers to self-isolate when returning to St. John’s from a facility operating under a C-NLOPB authorization offshore, however all workers are required to adhere to requirements related to the new Alert Level 5 Special Measures Orders that have been issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, at all times.
Pursuant to the March 22, 2020 Order Respecting Essential Employees of the C-NLOPB’s Chief Safety Officer, only employees who were essential to the safe and environmentally responsible operations of offshore installations were permitted to work offshore. This Order was temporarily suspended on September 15, 2020.
In light of the current Alert Level 5, the Chief Safety Officer has once again implemented the Order Respecting Essential Employees for Offshore facilities until further notice. Operators in the Offshore Area have continued to operate with restricted offshore personnel for some time in response to the global pandemic and minimal changes are expected in response to this Order.
Emergency response plans for drilling and production are being continually assessed in light of evolving travel restrictions, exemptions and border tightening.
Continued Regulatory Oversight
Along with submitting weekly status reports, operators of each of these facilities are participating in virtual updates with the C-NLOPB’s Chief Safety Officer, Chief Executive Officer and senior regulatory staff, who remain in constant contact with operators and governments and in frequent contact with regulators elsewhere in Canada and around the world.
Operators and the offshore workforce need to continue to follow and implement the direction, advice and guidance of the federal and Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officers, as the situation is dynamic and directions will continue to evolve.
C-NLOPB offices continue to be closed to external visitors. In response to recent developments and the move to Alert Level 5, we have resumed our practice of having employees work from home. We also remain engaged with our sister Board, the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to ensure both organizations are fully supported.
We will continue to update our website and Twitter account as further information is available and as the situation changes in our Offshore Area.
Cell: (709) 725-2900
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