The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) is responding to criticisms made in the
media recently in relation to spill reporting. The C-NLOPB received notification from Suncor on March 28 of a 26,400
litre spill of synthetic based mud (SBM) from the MODU Henry Goodrich to which Suncor responded immediately.
The Board has commenced an investigation based on the information collected subsequent to the spill.
Environment Officers were on board the Henry Goodrich over the weekend to further the investigation. The
company is also required under legislation to conduct its own investigation and report the findings to the C-NLOPB.
Synthetic based mud is a heavy, dense fluid used during drilling operations to lubricate the drill pipe and
balance reservoir pressure. Because of its weight, the mud sinks rapidly in the water column and rests on the sea floor. The synthetic based oil used in SBM is a food-grade oil of low toxicity. Because of this, effects of SBM spills typically are limited to within tens of meters of a well site and are associated with physical smothering due to seabed coverage by the mud.
The investigation into the cause and environmental impacts is underway. A survey of the seabed was conducted by a
remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Water samples and sediment samples were taken. Suncor tasked a stand-by vessel to
conduct a survey for signs of SBM on the surface. Suncor also contacted Coast Guard as required. The Weather Observer
and the Suncor Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Advisor conducted visual surveillance for sea birds and mammals.
The Board has not yet determined what, if any, environmental remedial action would be appropriate.
The C-NLOPB does not “cover-up” any spill into the environment. Operators are required to report all spills to
the C-NLOPB in accordance with the Accord Act and regulations. The C-NLOPB also issues Guidelines for Reporting
and Investigation of Incidents which describes how reporting is to be done by Operators. The C-NLOPB reports all
spills greater than one litre on its website (www.cnlopb.nl.ca). The C-NLOPB is one of the most transparent offshore
regulators in the world for reporting spill data.
The Board does not subscribe to the view that Operators should be compelled to place a third party observer on
offshore installations. Also, the Board is not aware of any offshore jurisdiction where a full-time observer is
required on installations at all times. The Board believes that a crucial goal of the offshore regulatory structure
is to ensure that personnel employed by offshore Operators, and particularly members of the offshore workforce, are
cognizant of the need to perform their duties in a safe and environmentally prudent manner, are competent to perform
these duties, have the systems and procedures in place to enable this, and conscientiously follow these systems and
procedures in practice. The Operator carries the ultimate legal responsibility for this and the Board has the duty
to assure itself that this responsibility is properly and diligently discharged.
To ensure that this is the case, Board staff conduct a detailed review of Operators’ safety and environmental
management systems prior to approving activities, monitor reports from offshore drilling and production operations
on a daily basis, and conduct detailed safety and environmental audits offshore. The Board currently employs Safety
and Environmental Officers who are charged with the latter duties.
Sean Kelly M.A., APR, FCPRS
Manager of Public Relations
(709) 689-0713 (cell)
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|2011, Dec 21||C-NLOPB Invites Comments on Draft Scoping Document for Western Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area Strategic Environmental Assessment Update|
|2011, Nov 16||C-NLOPB Releases Results for 2011 Calls for Bids NL11-01, NL11-02 and NL11-03|
|2011, Nov 2||Corridor Environmental Assessment for Exploration Licence 1105 Filed with the C-NLOPB|
|2011, Nov 1||C-NLOPB Conducts Offshore Safety Forum|
|2011, Oct 18||Offshore Incident Reporting by Operators Consistent with other Industries|
|2011, Oct 14||C-NLOPB Comments on S-92 Helicopter Incident in Gulf of Mexico|
|2011, Oct 5||2011 Call for Nominations|
|2011, Sep 21||C-NLOPB Comments on Bristow Norway S-92A Grounding|
|2011, Aug 25||C-NLOPB Announces Independent Review of Proposed Drilling on Exploration Licence 1105 (Old Harry)|
|2011, Aug 19||C-NLOPB Releases 2010-11 Annual Report|
|2011, Aug 18||C-NLOPB Responds to Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry Phase II Report|
|2011, Aug 16||C-NLOPB to Conduct Extensive Public Consultations on EL 1105 (Old Harry) Proposal|
|2011, Aug 15||C-NLOPB Releases Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry Report, Phase II|
|2011, Jul 6||C-NLOPB Appoints Miller Ayre as Commissioner for Hebron Development Application Public Review|
|2011, Jul 4||C-NLOPB Sets the Record Straight on AG Audit Request|
|2011, Jun 13||C-NLOPB Recommends a Mediator or Panel Review of Proposed Old Harry Exploration Well in the Gulf of St. Lawrence|
|2011, Jun 6||Drilling and Production Guidelines Updated|
|2011, Jun 3||New Definitions for Reserves and Resources|
|2011, Jun 3||C-NLOPB Releases Further Documentation Relating to the Hebron Development Plan Application|
|2011, May 16||Hebron Benefits Plan Filed with the C-NLOPB|
|2011, May 12||C-NLOPB Announces 2011 Calls for Bids|
|2011, Apr 21||Hebron Development Application Filed With the C-NLOPB|
|2011, Apr 5||C-NLOPB Responds to Criticism about Spill Reporting|
|2011, Mar 15||C-NLOPB says it was not Notified of Board Appointment|
|2011, Feb 25||Canadian Environmental Assessment Act Draft Scoping Document Exploration Drilling Project – EL 1105|
|2011, Feb 9||C-NLOPB Says it will Review the TSB Report and Decide Next Steps|