C-NLOPB staff are undertaking extraordinary measures in our regulatory oversight to meet the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19. Our mission, like everyone else’s right now, is to help “flatten the curve”. Our regulatory focus, working with others, is to support Public Health authorities and help ensure that Operators of offshore facilities have the necessary plans and procedures in place to protect the health and safety of the workforce.
Status of Offshore Facilities
As of 2:00 p.m. on March 24, 2020, no production or drilling installation in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area (Offshore Area), has been required to cease operations as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
An Order issued on March 22, by our Chief Safety Officer (CSO) provided clarity to companies operating in our Offshore Area with respect to required measures in support of the directives and exemptions issued by Public Health.
Operators participate in daily calls with our CSO, Chief Executive Officer and senior subject matter experts of the C-NLOPB. The CSO’s Order ensures offshore staffing levels are reduced to minimum levels required to maintain safe and environmentally responsible operations, while respecting the Chief Medical Officers’ directions to help ensure a safe workplace in light of the COVID-19 threat. Only employees essential to the safe and environmentally responsible operations of offshore installations are permitted to work offshore at this time. Essential workers are those directly engaged in the delivery of safe and environmentally responsible offshore operations, including those required to implement measures necessitated by the threat of COVID-19.
Since March 6, 2020 enhanced screening procedures have been in place at the sole point of embarkation, the St. John’s Heliport, for workers travelling offshore by helicopter. This includes a questionnaire and temperature scan for all workers before they are permitted to travel offshore, along with Cougar Helicopter employees. Both are being administered by the medical professionals at Atlantic Offshore Medical Services (AOMS). Similar testing is in place for supply vessels.
A special exemption order has been put in place by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, to allow those involved in the transportation of oil and gas workers and those involved in essential work offshore, to travel offshore without self-isolating for 14 days. Offshore operators are managing their business to minimize the use of the exemptions. We have been advised by all operators that there are no plans at this time to send anyone to an offshore facility who hasn’t followed the 14-day isolation period. The exemption is in place for industry to use, but would only be used for exceptional circumstances.
It is important to note that Public Heath has confirmed there is no requirement for asymptomatic offshore workers to self-isolate when returning from the Offshore Area to St. John’s.
Operators and the offshore workforce need to closely follow and implement the direction, advice and guidance of the Chief Medical Officers, as the situation is dynamic and directions will undoubtedly continue to evolve.
Offshore Medicals and Training
In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Atlantic Canada Offshore Training and Qualifications Committee (TQC), along with the C-NLOPB and Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, have permitted extensions to the validity of training certificates and medical assessments for offshore workers. For information on these changes, please go to https://bit.ly/2WGs00s.
Our staff are also continuing to follow the direction and guidance of health authorities to flatten the curve. Nearly all of our staff are now continually working from home, and we have replaced face to face meetings with virtual meetings. We are still fully operational and remain fully able to provide sound regulatory oversight.
We are also in regular contact with governments and other offshore regulators in Canada and internationally as the Chair of the International Regulators Forum (IRF), all of whom are facing similar challenges.
We will continue to update our website and Twitter account as further information is available and as the situation in our Offshore Area changes.
For further information, please see the following links:
Cell: (709) 725-2900
|2020, Apr 3||A Message from the CEO|
|2020, Mar 24||C-NLOPB Response to COVID-19 – Update|
|2020, Mar 22||C-NLOPB Issues Order Respecting Essential Employees|
|2020, Mar 17||Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board Response to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)|
|2020, Jan 20||Chief Safety Officer Issues Second Order to Suncor Energy and Commences Formal Enquiry|
|2020, Jan 15||Chief Safety Officer Issues Order to Suncor Energy|
|2020, Jan 9||C-NLOPB Issues Call for Nominations for Areas of Interest (Eastern Newfoundland)|