Broken subsea equipment at Husky Energy’s White Rose field operations released nearly nine tonnes of natural gas into the water, the province’s energy regulator reported Wednesday.
The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board reported a “major hydrocarbon gas release” from underwater equipment in the oilfield’s southern drill centre late Monday afternoon. The board initially reported 8,938 kilograms of gas was released from two subsea wells, but later clarified that the release came from subsea equipment, not the wells itself, and that the release was stopped with 12 minutes of the initial alarm.
Husky spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said the gas released was treated gas used to enhance production, not reservoir gas.
“This is the treated stuff that we would have been reinjecting in to provide production support, to help improve production,” said McConnell.
She said the leak came from a piece of equipment called a “gas lift jumper,” a piece of flexible pipe that connects some of the subsea components. Husky is investigating to find out how the equipment broke, and McConnell said there would be no lasting impact from the release of the gas, which she said would have dissipated quickly into the atmosphere.
Dave Burley, director of environmental affairs for the board, said the board has reviewed the initial information.
“We’ve determined that there’s not an immediate concern for safety or the environment, as the release was shut off shortly after it was detected,” he said, adding the board is continuing its investigation with Husky to determine how the leak happened and to prevent it happening again.
“This was larger than most that have occurred in the past,” said Burley. “You occasionally see a small amount of bubbling from one well or another that’s then dealt with, a relatively minor leak. But this was a larger one.”
Burley also noted the gas wasn’t released near any installations with people.
“It would have been a different level of urgency if it was on an installation,” said Burley, who said it’s unlikely the release harmed wildlife.
“From a natural gas release like this, it’s pretty unlikely, even at this quantity, because at it rose through the water column it would spread out a little bit and once it got to the water surface and into the atmosphere, it would dissipate really quickly.”