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Exxon and partners fined US$300Kfor 75-barrel oil leak in Canada

Exxon and partners fined US$300Kfor 75-barrel oil leak in Canada

Court Stories, ExxonMobil, Features / Columnists, News, Oil & Gas

Kaieteur News – An ExxonMobil-led consortium, Hibernia Management and Development Company (HMDC) has been fined US$300,000 for spilling 12,000 liters of crude-water mixture (about 75.48 barrels) into Canadian waters – which happened four years ago.

According to federal agency, Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), the consortium which operates the Hibernia Platform, opted to plead guilty to the charges brought against them in relation to the 2019 oil spill. The company has to pay C$90,000 which was imposed under the Accord Act and C$310,000, into the Environmental Damages Fund.

According to the Canadian body latest statement, in July 2022, the charges were filed against HMDC. The charges came after the agency conducted an investigation into the oil spill.

It was stated that on July 17, 2019, HMDC notified the C-NLOPB that approximately 12,000 litres (75.48 barrels) of a crude oil and water mixture was released from the Hibernia Platform into the Atlantic Ocean. In accordance with subsection 1(1), paragraph 9(i) and 6(d) of the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Drilling and Production Regulations, this discharge was determined to be pollution. HMDC was found to have acted contrary to paragraph 24(1) (c) and thereby committed an offence pursuant to section 194 of the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act (Accord Act): 194 (1).

The unauthorised discharge of the crude-water mixture was deemed as pollution. As such, the company’s operation was suspended for a while.

The Hibernia Platform rests on the seabed in approximately 80 metres of water. It is comprised of two components: topsides, which comprises the drilling derricks, facilities infrastructure and accommodations module; and the Gravity Based Structure (the GBS), which is a concrete pedestal which sits on the ocean floor and has storage capacity for 1.3 million barrels of crude.

The oil is stored in the GBS, which supports the topside. When oil enters the GBS, it displaces water which is used as ballast; this is then discharged into the ocean.

Through the usage of a Crude Oil Interface Level Measurement System (COILMS) the company is able to monitor the amount of oil being discharged with water. However, the C-NLOB investigation found that the COILMS was faulty which led to false readings.

COILMS uses sensors to report on what is happening in the cells, as it cannot be entered manually, and is programmed to both alarm and trip all platform production, in order to prevent: crude oil from entering the ballast water diffuser, located near the bottom of the storage cell, and discharging overboard via the deballast system; and water from entering the crude oil diffuser, located near the top of the storage cell, and making its way to the crude offloading pumps.

On July 17, 2019, during the process, a quantity of oil mixed with water was discharged into the Atlantic Ocean. The morning after the incident, reports were received of oil on the ocean surface. The cleanup effort spanned two and a half weeks and included numerous vessels engaged in various methods of spill response and remediation.