BP RESUMES DRILLING OFF COAST OF NOVA SCOTIA AFTER DRILLING MUD SPILL
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by Michelle Moore
BP Canada has been given the go-ahead to resume work at their oil exploration operation off the shore of Halifax after spilling drilling mud almost a month ago.
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) said in a press release Monday, that the company was allowed to restart work the previous evening.
On June 22 BP Canada reported a spill of drilling fluid off the coast of Nova Scotia at the first of seven exploratory wells BP Canada plans on using, the Aspy D-11 exploration well.
The spill of 136 000 litres of synthetic based drilled mud (SBM) took place at the West Aquarius Drilling Unit located some 330 kilometres southeast of Halifax.
SBM is a heavy, dense fluid used during drilling to lubricate the drill pipe and regulate reservoir pressure. BP Canada said that the spill appeared to come from a pipe that forms a section of the mud system roughly 30 metres under sea level has since been contained.
Yesterday, the CNSOPB said their ongoing investigation revealed that the cause of the spill was a loose connection in the mud booster line.
They explained, "the purpose of the mud booster line is to pump drilling mud into the riser to lift drill cuttings from the well to the drilling unit for processing."
For their part, BP Canada has developed a series of responsive actions to prevent this from happening again.
This includes replacing and testing the mud booster line and conducting inspections of similar connections. They have also created a pressure system alarm of the mud booster line that can be monitored from the West Aquarius drilling unit and the BP Global Well Monitoring Centre in Houston.
"We have verified that all the responsive steps have been implemented," said CNSOPB CEO, Stuart Pinks. "We are satisfied that the responsive actions taken, including the additional monitoring and testing that will be done for the remainder of the project, allows for drilling operations to resume safely."
The Offshore Alliance, a coalition of environmentalists, fishermen and everyday citizens have called for a moratorium on offshore drilling until a federal public inquiry can be completed saying current regulations are too lax.
One of its members Marion Moore said "BP's drilling mud spill is the canary in the mine shaft – a small indication of the catastrophe waiting round the corner ... no one who grasps the risk to our traditional and renewable economic base could agree to more drilling without adequate science or study."
The same conclusion was met by the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS), a project of the South Shore Council of Canadians based in Lunenburg who began a campaign days before the spill occurred asking the federal government to reconsider the project approval.