BP Canada Energy Group ULC (BP Canada) reported on June 22, 2018, an unauthorized discharge of synthetic based drilling mud (SBM) from the West Aquarius Drilling Unit. A preliminary estimate of the volume discharged is approximately 136 cubic metres.
The discharge has been stopped. A remote operated vehicle was launched to determine the source of the discharge. Preliminary indications is that it is from piping that forms part of the mud system approximately 30 metres below sea level.
The well is secure and drilling has been suspended while the cause of the discharge is investigated. Drilling of the well will not resume until BP Canada receives approval from the CNSOPB that it may proceed.
CNSOPB staff have been monitoring the situation since first notified earlier today. The Canadian Coast Guard was also notified.
Synthetic based mud is a heavy, dense fluid used during drilling to lubricate the drill pipe and overbalance reservoir pressure. Because of its weight, the mud sinks rapidly in the water column to the sea floor. The synthetic based oil used in SBM is of low toxicity. Because of this, effects of SBM spills are typically limited to the area immediately surrounding the well site and are associated with physical smothering of the seabed due to coverage by the mud.
The West Aquarius is currently located approximately 330 kilometers from Halifax.
Source: Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board
** Update: EAC responds to BP “drilling mud” spill off the coast of Halifax
Just two months into an exploratory drill off the coast of Halifax, BP Canada Energy Group ULC (BP Canada) has reportedly spilled 136,000 litres of synthetic ‘Drilling Mud’. The spill was reported in an incident bulletin on the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) website this afternoon.
Following the announcement, Stephen Thomas, Energy Campaign Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, is calling for better regulatory oversight.
“Coastal Communities have been concerned that something like this – or worse – would happen,” says Thomas.
Thomas is concerned that BP and CNSOPB will try to downplay the impacts of today’s spill.
“We think that 136,000 litres of synthetic drilling fluid off of our coasts is a sign of the huge risks associated with this type of drilling, and is cause for concern,” Thomas says.
According to the incident bulletin, drilling has been suspended “while the cause of the discharge is investigated. Drilling of the well will not resume until BP Canada receives approval from the CNSOPB that it may proceed.”
The Ecology Action Centre is a member of the Offshore Alliance, who oppose offshore exploration on the Scotian Shelf, and are calling for a moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration in Nova Scotia.
“This is extremely worrying, and absolutely inexcusable,” says Thomas.
Source: Media Release