N.L. oil spills leave regulator unhappy with performance of offshore industry

The Hibernia offshore oil platform. Image: Suncor Energy

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The chairman of Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry regulator says back-to-back spills from the Hibernia platform over the last month represent concerning failures to meet obligations to society and the environment.

An estimated 2,200 litres of oil spilled into the ocean southeast of St. John's during a power outage on Saturday, according to the Hibernia Management and Development Company.

The incident followed a 12,000-litre spill from the same platform a month earlier. The latest spill came two days after production resumed following the July 17 spill.

Scott Tessier of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board says he's unhappy with the spate of incidents but remains confident in the regulator's ability to improve industry performance.

Tessier says cleanup efforts are underway, but recovering oil from water is “very difficult,” which is why the regulator emphasizes spill prevention.

Power outages are not unheard of in the industry, but Tessier says it's unusual that there was no backup power to prevent Saturday's discharge.

Investigations into the July 17 and Aug. 17 spills are ongoing, as is the board's investigation into last November's 250,000-litre spill at Husky Energy's SeaRose platform.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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