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Friday, January 19, 2018

January 19, 2018

 

For Immediate Release

 

 

 

SeaRose FPSO Suspension Warrants Answers from Minister

 

 

 

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “When our offshore regulator suspends the petroleum operations of an offshore vessel because the operator did not follow its own emergency response plan and ‘the C-NLOPB lacks confidence that mandatory action will be taken by the Operator during an emergency situation,’ it is time for the Natural Resources Minister to provide more thorough answers to the questions people are asking – particularly about safety, the environment and the financial impact on the province.”

 

 

 

The C-NLOPB suspended the petroleum-related operations of the SeaRose FPSO on Thursday stating that during a close encounter with an iceberg on March 29, 2017, the vessel “should have disconnected and sailed away” in accordance with its Ice Management Plan (IMP), but “Husky did not follow its IMP; onshore senior management did not ensure the IMP was followed; and the Offshore Installation Manager failed to disconnect in accordance with the IMP.” The operator acknowledged on Thursday that ‘We could have and should have responded differently according to the pre-existing plan….’

 

 

 

Hutchings said, “Suspending a production vessel and expressing a lack of confidence in the operator’s emergency response protocols is extremely serious. The event and the suspension have raised concerns among offshore workers, whose safety is paramount. The project Development Plan documents make clear that ‘The main hazard to personnel will occur when the facility, whether a fixed or floating structure, is impacted by an iceberg,’ so it is imperative to avoid such a hazard. That is what the Ice Management Plan was designed to do, but a plan is useless if it is not followed.”

 

 

 

“We need to know what happened and why; why a 10 month delay from incident to response from regulator, when was the Natural Resources Minister made aware? Was she concerned? What would have happened if a second ice berg has approached - would the same failed procedure be used? What has the Minister done to ensure all our workers will be protected when they work in this remote environment?”

 

 

 

Hutchings said, "The C-NLOPB is a federal-provincial joint management board, which has positions representing the government and people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Minister should have a clear connection with those representatives at all times, and should have been in touch throughout the past 10 months to stay on top of things following the incident. Has she done that? Were the province's best interests served when provincial vacancies on the board were left unfilled for a period of time?"

 

Almost a year has passed since the incident. “The C-NLOPB said ‘This decision to suspend operations was taken now because of the preliminary report findings,’ but is the Minister concerned that the suspension did not come until 10 months after the March 2017 incident? Did it take 10 months to determine that the operator did not follow the proper plan? Did the operator start following the proper plan during the past 10 months, or were they asked to?”

 

 

 

Hutchings said, “Unfortunately, the incident that led to the suspension has also caused a loss of income and revenue. We need to know what the financial impact will be to the province so we can adjust our projections accordingly. How quickly will the losses add up? Does the Minister have any indication of the time that might be required to deal effectively with this matter so operations can resume? What responsibility lies with the operator for the revenue loss as it was their admitted failure to follow protocol that results in the revenues loss to the people of the province. The Minister should also explain the impact on workers, suppliers and others who are affected by the suspension.”

 

 

 

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Media Contact:

 

Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications, Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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