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Newfoundland regulators announce special oversight of Chevron deep ocean well

While the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico continues, 400 kilometres north of St. John's, N...


While the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico continues, 400 kilometres north of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Chevron Canada has started drilling a deep sea oil well to reach 2.5 kilometres to the floor of the North Atlantic ocean. The Lona O-55 well in the Orphan Basin is the deepest oil well ever drilled in Canadian waters, and is one kilometre deeper than the Deepwater Horizon well.
Following public concerns and questions about the Lona O-55 in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature, Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), the regulators for the offshore industry, announced on May 20 that it would require “special oversight measures” for the Chevron well.
The new measures included the following:
“The frequency of audits and inspections onboard the Stena Carron will be approximately every three to four weeks. Normally, audits and inspections are conducted on offshore operators every 3-4 months.
“Prior to penetrating any of the targets, Chevron should assure itself and the C-NLOPB that all personnel and equipment for spill response identified in its oil spill contingency plan are available for rapid deployment.”
The board said it also now requires that one of its representatives be onboard the Stena Carron drilling ship “to observe the cementing operations of the last casing string set prior to entering any target zones.”
While Canada’s Environment Minister reassured the Vancouver Sun that Canada’s regulatory regime for oil and gas is respected around the world, there is debate over whether Canada’s rules are stricter than those that were in place for the Deepwater Horizon project.