Hibernia resuming production after 12,000 L spill shut it down for nearly a month

The Hibernia offshore oil platform is resuming production after a 12,000-litre spill of oil and water last month had it shut down for nearly a month.

Production at the platform, located about 315 kilometres east of St. John’s, was shut down completely on July 17, the day of the spill.

The oil and water mixture spilled from a storage tank on board the platform. The storage tanks hold both water and oil and the company said the level of the emulsified oil and water mixture in the tank was to blame.

“To resolve this issue, HMDC has removed the current interface layer from the storage cell and is revising its procedures to protect against future possible reoccurrence,” the company said in an update posted to its website Thursday.

The Hibernia Management Company said Thursday it will be a staged return to production and that it will take the “necessary time” to ramp up to full production levels.

The plan to restart was made in consultation with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

The C-NLOPB said it will be overseeing the entire process of restarting on the platform. Both the C-NLOPB and an independent certifying authority reviewed and approved HMDC’s plan to start up again.

Clean-up called off

Following the spill, the C-NLOPB reported that satellite imagery showed two oil slicks had formed. One was 1.71 square kilometres and 3.27 kilometres long, and one was 6.64 square kilometres and 3.78 kilometres long.

Six oiled birds have so far been spotted in the area and three have died.

HMDC called off its attempts to sop up the mess from the surface of the water earlier in the month, saying the concentration of the oil in the sheen was too small for it to be recoverable.

The province’s finance minister told CBC News earlier that the spill was costing the province about $2.5 million a day in deferred revenue.

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