Captain wants to see oil tanker standards

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Life of Hebron likely to go beyond life of current fleet

Charles Newhook raised the issue of oil tanker standards, above and beyond Transport Canada standards, for offshore Newfoundland and Labrador during the latest session of the Hebron Public Review Commission in St. John’s on Monday. Tanker standards have been created by companies operating in other jurisdictions, typically areas with higher tanker traffic. — Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

The tankers hauling oil to and from the oilfields offshore Newfoundland and Labrador was one of the topics touched on during the Hebron Public Review Commission session in St. John’s Monday.

It was the first day back for the commission to the Holiday Inn meeting location, following stops in Marystown and Clarenville last week.

Oil tankers were raised in a scheduled presentation by Capt. Charles Newhook, who normally might be found at the helm of an offshore oil tanker.

Newhook challenged the Hebron project leaders to provide further details on what they would consider to be the basic requirements for the tankers transporting crude from Hebron.

“I believe we’ve been at this long enough to know what constitutes a suitable tanker for offshore Newfoundland and Labrador,” Newhook said, suggesting there was an absence of a standard in planning documents submitted so far to the regulator by the Hebron proponents.

Hebron is expected to begin its production life using vessels from the existing fleet operating in the offshore. That fleet includes four tankers “certainly suitable” for the work they are currently used for, Newhook said.

However, he noted, that fleet will be well-aged by the time Hebron reaches first oil (expected 2017), when you consider two were purpose-built in 1997 for Hibernia.

In response, Hebron project manager Geoff Parker said the capabilities of the tanker fleet will continue to be assessed, alongside the requirements of the project moving forward.

“I don’t think we’re thinking the current tanker fleet would last for the life of the Hebron field,” he said.

The life of the field is estimated to be upwards of 30 years.

Parker said requirements for any new vessels brought in, if they are needed, would typically be based on the best of the standards followed by the project partners.

Newhook highlighted a set of standard guidelines followed by Statoil for tankers working in the North Sea — the “Minimum Technical and Operational Requirements for Offshore Loading Shuttle Tankers” — and said it would be of interest for this jurisdiction.

Statoil is a Hebron project partner.

The operator-set standards called for by Newhook would be above and beyond any relevant seaworthiness standards set by Transport Canada.

Organizations: Hebron Public Review Commission, Holiday Inn, Statoil

Geographic location: Hebron, Newfoundland and Labrador, Marystown North Sea

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