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Hibernia platform leaking crude oil

The Hibernia offshore oil platform – owned by Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Suncor – is leaking an undetermined amount of crude oil. The platform is located about 315 kilometres east-southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland in about 80 metres of ocean water.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “(A spokesperson for the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board) said (Hibernia Management & Development Co. Ltd.) is ‘working to estimate’ the size of the oil spill…” The platform is allowed to produce about 220,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

The article also notes, “Hibernia Management has suspended offloading crude to tankers from the platform and ‘production rates have been cut back significantly’…”

VOCM adds, “On Dec. 18 approximately 10 litres of crude was spilled from a hose on one of the company’s two loading systems. …A sheen was later reported on Dec. 27… (The company) is conducting ongoing sheen observations with volumes found to be less than a litre of crude. Hibernia says no wildlife has been observed in the area of the sheen. HMDC is mobilizing vessels and equipment to remediate the leak as soon as conditions permit.”

Reuters has reported, “Hibernia is largest stream of three sweet crude oil grades produced in the Grand Banks formation, off Newfoundland, along with Terra Nova and White Rose. Canadian eastern offshore production was around 265,000 bpd in 2010, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration.”

A 1998 Government of Newfoundland publication has noted, “The main destination for Hibernia oil is the United States.” Reuters adds, “As recently as 2011, close to 100 percent of Canada’s crude exports went to its neighbour the United States, according to the EIA.”

But that may be shifting as the United States produces more domestic fracked oil and Canadian producers seek higher international prices. In January 2013, Reuters reported, “Trade and shipping sources said two Hibernia cargoes of 600,000 barrels each arrived at Britain’s east coast in late December to early January. A Hibernia cargo of 1 million barrels is due to load from Whiffen Head, a Canadian offshore loading platform, this week and will go to Valero’s Pembroke refinery, trade sources said.”