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Husky spill consisted of two fluid releases, investigation reveals

Husky Energy’s investigation into the massive fuel spill at the SeaRose vessel last month has revealed there were actually two fluid releases containing a mix of oil, water and gas.

While the final report has not yet concluded exactly what happened to allow the 250,000-litre spill — the province’s largest — from a failed flowline connector near the South White Rose Extension drill centre, about 350 kilometres east of St. John’s, on Nov. 16, the company provided an update Monday as it continues to delve into the incident.

The vessel was attempting to restart oil production after an initial shutdown due to a storm – which has been noted as the strongest storm on the planet at the time.

The Husky vessel was the first of the six offshore oil producers to attempt to restart production. In preparation for the restart, warm crude oil was pumped back through the lines as a way to flush out any gases that had gathered since the shutdown. During the flushing of the pipes, oil pressure dropped, and crews realized an oil spill had taken place.

The finding that it was a mix of fluids is an engineering estimate based on the flow rate of the line and the time fluid was known to be flowing, the company indicated in a news release. The investigation continues to assess the mix of fluids released.

The initial fluid release occurred during the approximately 20 minutes offshore teams were troubleshooting a drop in flowline pressure, it stated. A retest led to a second release lasting approximately 15 minutes.

Husky submitted its preliminary report on the spill Dec. 7 to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB).

Its final report will include engineering analysis of the flowline connector once it can be brought ashore.

“We are deeply sorry for the incident and are committed to learning from it and putting measures in place to ensure it does not happen again,” Husky stated in the news release.

It went on to say it has identified, and is already taking steps to address, areas for process improvement, especially around the areas of trouble shooting in non-standard or infrequent conditions, and adverse weather and challenging conditions.

Husky is also working on improving how it identifies and manages non-standard or infrequent operating conditions. It’s also revising its adverse weather policy to add more formality around restarting production.

The company has implemented enhanced oversight on critical activities to raise the awareness of potential risks and providing team back up.

Husky said it continues to work with the CNLOPB on a plan to recover the failed flowline connector and plug the flowline, and noted it is co-operating fully with that investigation.

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