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Small steps, as Husky Energy works back to production

Testing of subsea systems to begin at Central Drill Centre first

An artist's depiction of the positioning of Husky Energy's Searose FPSO and its various drill centres in the area: NDC — Northern Drill Centre, CDC — Central Drill Centre, SDC — Southern Drill Centre, SWRX — South White Rose Extension and NADC — North Amethyst Drill Centre.
An artist's depiction of the positioning of Husky Energy's Searose FPSO and its various drill centres in the area: NDC — Northern Drill Centre, CDC — Central Drill Centre, SDC — Southern Drill Centre, SWRX — South White Rose Extension and NADC — North Amethyst Drill Centre.

Husky Energy is not producing oil at the SeaRose FPSO following a 250,000-litre spill in November. However, the company is working to — step by step — give confidence to the regulator in the subsea systems at White Rose.

The company wants to regain public confidence in its offshore work as well, and is offering new details as it moves along in its planned testing and in the spill investigation.

On Friday, the operator issued a public notice that it was at the point in its work with the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) of obtaining final verifications before key tests at the Central Drill Centre at White Rose. The company could be flushing lines and leak testing there as early as this weekend.

This area of flowlines and subsea infrastructure is different from the area of the South White Rose Extension where a faulty flowline connector is believed to be responsible for the recent oil spill.

The testing at the Central Drill Centre is still a required step and the company will be required to circulate fluids — oil, gas and water — from the production flowlines at that site back to the floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO).

A separate step in the road to production is recovering the weak link from the sea floor at the South White Rose Extension.

“Whenever that occurs, we haven’t got the green light for that just yet, but there will be representation of people on board some of the vessels, from third-party agencies,” Trevor Pritchard, Husky’s senior vice-president in the Atlantic Region, said Friday when asked about regulatory oversight.

Pritchard said the company has to restore the integrity of the flowline, has been planning and has gone out to vendors to design, build and manufacture plugs to assist in the work. The company will use remote operated vehicles (ROVs) to both recover the suspect flowline connector at the South White Rose Extension and to plug the flowline.

As for the amount of time since oil production, Pritchard said he doesn’t feel it as a ticking clock. He’s not counting the days.

“It will be what it will be. We just need to do this job safely and (be) environmentally responsible,” he said.

He didn’t hesitate to describe the oil spill as a “significant incident.” He said the company as a whole is remorseful and intends to make procedural changes based on recommendations coming out of the ongoing investigation.

“We can only, by demonstration and being open and honest, can we get our reputation back and build the public’s confidence up,” he said.

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