It’s delicate work at the ocean floor at the South White Rose Extension in offshore Newfoundland and Labrador.
It’s a formidable environment and sea state and weather conditions must be right for the work to proceed.
But operations to recover a faulty flowline connector that a began last week are going according to plan, Husky Energy maintains.
Operations began shortly after 7 a.m. Friday after the on-scene commander confirmed that all pre-conditions were met, and it was safe to proceed.
Safe to proceed is the key.
Not only safety for personnel and equipment, but a major oil leak could be detrimental to the environment, to seabirds, fish species and mammals.
This is why there was a pre-deployment of spill response equipment, on scene aerial surveillance and regular wildlife observations for the operation.
An update provided on Sunday stated that Saturday’s operational period concluded with one end of the flowline connector removed, and one of four bolts removed on the other end.
Weather conditions offshore were not suitable for aerial surveillance on Sunday so subsea recovery operations were placed on hold and expected to resume today.
Some oil did escape during the work, but it was quickly contained.
“When we removed the first part of the flowline connector Saturday, approximately 47.5 litres of residual oil was released from the flowline,” the statement read. “This is consistent with our expectations around volumes and the time in the operation when such releases were most likely to occur.
“The open end of the flowline was plugged and secured. Monitoring of the location continues.”
Husky says the spill itself was observed at surface as a light sheen and was managed as per the approved spill management plan. Aerial surveillance confirmed there were no sheens observed outside the response area and no seabirds were observed on the surface of the water.
Prior to that, all releases of residual oil observed were estimated at less than one litre.
The statement noted that remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and spill response vessels remained in the field over the weekend. The operation was to resume at daybreak.
Last Thursday, the day prior to the commencement of operations, a wildlife survey identified just four seabirds in a 54-kilometre area around the site. A few seabirds were sighted on Friday and none were oiled.
Wildlife observers are conducting hourly observations from both the Skandi Vinland and the Maersk Detector vessels.
Last Nov. 16, 250,000-litres of oil spilled into the ocean after a flowline connector failed near the South White Rose Extension drill centre, about 350 kilometres east of St. John's. The SeaRose FPSO vessel was attempting to restart oil production after a shutdown due to a storm when the spill occurred.
Since the incident, inspections have also been completed on the SeaRose hull, topsides and mooring system. Husky also completed additional risk assessments, reviewed start up procedures, updated its adverse weather guidelines and completed a safety review.