Husky Energy facing 3 charges for massive SeaRose oil spill off coast of N.L.

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Husky Energy facing 3 charges for massive SeaRose oil spill off coast of N.L.

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Husky Energy is facing three charges for a massive spill of crude oil into the Atlantic Ocean in November 2018. 

The 250,000-litre spill — the largest in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador — came from a leak in a flowline to the SeaRose FPSO, a floating production, storage and offloading vessel about 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the industry regulator, is accusing the company of not ensuring work that was likely to cause pollution ceased without delay, resuming work before ensuring it was safe to do so without pollution, and causing or permitting a spill in the offshore area. 

Conservation officers with the C-NLOPB charged the company in provincial court on Tuesday afternoon. The company is due in court on Nov. 23

The spill occurred on Nov. 16, 2018, as crews in the White Rose field were preparing to restart production, which had been halted by high winds and rough seas the day before.

It was blamed on a faulty connector in Husky’s underwater cables to the SeaRose FPSO, though Husky faced questions about why it was the first company to restart drilling operations after the rough weather moved through the oilfield.

Waves in the area measured about 30 feet high when Husky tried to restart production on the SeaRose FSPO.

The spill created an oil slick 21 kilometres long and eight kilometres wide, almost the size of Fogo Island.

The C-NLOPB said Tuesday it would not comment any further since regulatory charges have been laid. It’s just the third time the regulator has charged a company for an oil spill.

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In a statement, a spokesperson for Cenovus — which acquired Husky Energy in 2021 — said the company “took full responsibility” for the spill.

“We have also shared our lessons learned with other operators so they can consider how they might apply them to their operations, and we continue to take an active role in improving environmental and safety stewardship with other operators in the basin,” spokesperson Colleen McConnell wrote. “As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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