well blowout

Canada Gives Shell Permission to Leave Future Offshore Well Blowout Uncapped for 21 Days, the U.S. Gives 24 Hours

Canada’s Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, gave Shell Canada up to three weeks to cap any subsea blowout that might result from future petroleum exploration off Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Similar legislation in the U.S. requires companies to cap a ruptured well within 24 hours.

The three-week time period is included in Shell Canada’s capping plan, a part of the company’s proposed Shelburne Basin Venture Exploration Drilling Project. Minister Aglukkaq green-lighted the project on June 15 following an assessment by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Under the plan, a blowout would spill oil or gas into the ocean for up to 21 days before Shell would be required to have a capping stack or marine well containment system in place.

Capping stacks buy time for engineers to plan a permanent seal or a diversion of hydrocarbons at the site of a blowout. Because they can weigh 50 to 100 tons, transporting and maneuvering stacking caps to the site and onto a blowout can be time consuming and difficult.

Two Oil Spills in Alberta Due to Inadequate Monitoring

Companies responsible for two separate oil spills in Alberta failed to provide adequate oversight for their operations, according to federal government documents released by Environment Canada through Access to Information legislation.

The documents detail how Devon Canada and Gibson Energy violated environmental laws, including the federal Fisheries Act, when their operations cause two oil spills into fish-bearing waterways in 2010.

Gibson Energy, a midstream pipeline operator, spilled a few hundred litres of oil into an Edmonton creek after failing to properly abandon an unused pipeline. According to a warning letter issued to the company from Environment Canada, “Gibson Energy ULC made a business decision to keep the Kinder Morgan lateral full of crude oil and to not purge it with nitrogen.”

Subscribe to well blowout