Chevron confident in drilling safety

CanWest News Service
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Company says deepwater well off Newfoundland incident-free to date

Chevron Canada is confident it can safely drill its deepwater well off the northeast coast of Newfoundland - and avoid a massive oil spill like the one in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Mark MacLeod, Chevron's Atlantic Canada manager, appeared Thursday before the Senate committee that is looking into the safety of offshore drilling in Canadian waters.

Mark MacLeod

Chevron Canada is confident it can safely drill its deepwater well off the northeast coast of Newfoundland - and avoid a massive oil spill like the one in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Mark MacLeod, Chevron's Atlantic Canada manager, appeared Thursday before the Senate committee that is looking into the safety of offshore drilling in Canadian waters.

For the past month, Chevron has been drilling the deepest offshore well in Canada.

The Lona O-55 exploration well is located in the Orphan Basin about 430 kilometres northeast of St. John's.

"We're very confident we're going to drill this well safely," said MacLeod in an interview. "If we didn't believe it couldn't be drilled safely, we wouldn't be drilling it - and that's one of our key tenets."

Since the April 20 BP drill rig explosion that killed 11 offshore workers, MacLeod said Chevron has reviewed all drilling practices around the world and aboard the Stena Carron, its drill ship in the Orphan Basin.

"It's prudent for us to take a top to bottom review of what we're doing," he said.

"We have modified equipment, we have added equipment on the Stena Carron, we've done additional tests ... our casing program, our cementing program.

"The operations program for the BOP (blowout preventer) has been thoroughly reviewed in light of the April 20th incident in the Gulf of Mexico."

Chevron acknowledged it could take up to two weeks to get a drill rig on site from the Gulf of Mexico to begin a relief well in the event of a blowout.

"I cannot compare and contrast our equipment to BP's equipment because I do not know the facts of their operation," MacLeod told the Senate committee.

"I can say that safety and their safety record is of utmost importance when we select equipment."

He said Chevron has been planning the Lona O-55 well, its second deepwater exploration off Newfoundland, for more than two years.

It has also added an extra remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to the Stena Carron.

That underwater robot can be used to activate the blowout preventer in an emergency and shut down the well.

MacLeod said the ROV has been equipped with a larger hydraulic fluid tank - allowing it to activate up to four shut-down valves on the blowout preventer.

"With more fluid, we can activate more of those valves."

A blowout preventer is a wellhead valve designed to prevent potentially explosive surges of oil and gas during drilling.

It shuts down the well before an explosion can occur.

So far, MacLeod said drilling at Lona O-55 has been incident-free.

"We've not had a single loss-time incident, we've not had a single first aid, not had a cut finger," he said.

Sean Kelly, spokesman for the Canada-Newfoundland and Lab-rador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB), confirmed that drilling has been free of incident to date.

Last month, the CNLOPB toughened its rules for deepwater drilling activities off Newfoundland.

"We're continuing to do the things that we said we were going to with the extra oversight measures," said Kelly.

"We've getting full co-operation from the company."

The board also created a special committee to oversee Chevron's drilling operations, equipment testing and oil-spill readiness in the deepwater basin.

MacLeod said the company encourages employees to use "stop-work authority" - stopping any work they consider unsafe - and rewards them for doing so.

He said a crane operator aboard the Stena Carron recently halted unloading of cargo from a supply boat because he considered it unsafe.

"The manifest said the particular piece of equipment weighed 12 tonnes. He challenged that; he didn't think it was right so he stopped the job.

"In fact, the item he was about to lift weighed 20 tonnes, and it could have created an unsafe situation had he not had the correct weight.

"He was awarded quite significantly by Chevron and it was recognized throughout the drill ship that this is what we expect," said MacLeod.

mbaird@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Senate committee, BP, BOP CNLOPB Canada-Newfoundland and Lab Offshore Petroleum Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Canada St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Chicago Gym
    October 04, 2011 - 01:39

    This is going to be cool blod about drilling safely and it is important.Yes I do agree if there is confidence then it must be great to do and forward.Thanks.

  • Newfie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    It's easy to play Russian Roulette with someone else's head. Our environment and natural resources are more important than taking a chance on oil company's charm and propoganda. It is irresponsible to even consider allowing this company to drill without safety first. You have to wear safety glasses, helmet, vest, and boots on the job, why shouldn't they have to practice safety?

    If they have an accident, they only pay $40 Million for cleanup, which will leave NL with the extra $4-5 Billion from Taxpayers.

  • NL is my home
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Mr. MacLeod , are you saying that you have the ability to stop an oil leak like that in the Gulf when some unforseen incident happens and a BOP fails ? If so, why not share this knowledge with BP to stop the oil leak in the Gulf ? If not, you're just rolling the dice.


    So you're confident a catastrophy will never happen to you. We expected you to say nothing else. You're just another empty suit with false promises, and you're not well-liked here in Newfoundland & Labrador. Go play your Russian Roulet elsewhere please. Somewhere far, far away.


    Here's a tip... don't be so cocky.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    If they are that confident, they should have no problem coming up with a $10 Billion surity for clean up. If not then, they are not as confident as they say.

  • I C Clearly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    White Star had a lot of confidence in the Titanic being safe as well - look how that turned out.

  • Newfie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    It's easy to play Russian Roulette with someone else's head. Our environment and natural resources are more important than taking a chance on oil company's charm and propoganda. It is irresponsible to even consider allowing this company to drill without safety first. You have to wear safety glasses, helmet, vest, and boots on the job, why shouldn't they have to practice safety?

    If they have an accident, they only pay $40 Million for cleanup, which will leave NL with the extra $4-5 Billion from Taxpayers.

  • NL is my home
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Mr. MacLeod , are you saying that you have the ability to stop an oil leak like that in the Gulf when some unforseen incident happens and a BOP fails ? If so, why not share this knowledge with BP to stop the oil leak in the Gulf ? If not, you're just rolling the dice.


    So you're confident a catastrophy will never happen to you. We expected you to say nothing else. You're just another empty suit with false promises, and you're not well-liked here in Newfoundland & Labrador. Go play your Russian Roulet elsewhere please. Somewhere far, far away.


    Here's a tip... don't be so cocky.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    If they are that confident, they should have no problem coming up with a $10 Billion surity for clean up. If not then, they are not as confident as they say.

  • I C Clearly
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    White Star had a lot of confidence in the Titanic being safe as well - look how that turned out.