Offshore ‘incident’ at Shell site in Shelburne Basin

Published on March 7, 2016

SHELBURNE BASIN - A two-kilometre pipe from a rig conducting oil and gas exploration off Nova Scotia’s coast fell to the ocean floor over the weekend 

According to a media release from Shell Canada, the incident took place March 5, while crews were preparing for the upcoming storm.

The rig drilling Shell’s Cheshire exploration well 225 km offshore – the Stena Icemax - was able to successfully disconnect from the well in advance of the weather, said the March 7 release.

“Precautionary procedures were taken and completed prior to the storm, including isolating the well using the blowout preventer (BOP),” read the release.

Not long after the well had been secured and the rig moved away from the well location, “high waves and heave” caused the “riser tensioner system” to release.

This resulted in the riser as well as the “lower marine riser package” to fall to the seabed.

Operators were able to send a remotely operated vehicle  to the seabed to conduct a survey and found the BOP is intact and in good condition, the company said.

“There were no injuries,” stated the release.  “And the content of the riser had already been replaced with seawater so there was no loss of drilling fluid.”

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and Canadian Coast Guard were notified.

Shell said it, along with the rig operator Stena, would be undertaking an investigation to understand the contributing causes of the event.

The Shelburne Basin Exploration Project is a proposed deep-water drilling program to determine the potential presence of hydrocarbons in the area.

Shell was given authorization to explore at the well site in October 2015, after assuring regulators any blowout could be capped within two weeks.