Regulator says no repeat of BP disaster in Canada

Wed Jun 2, 2010 2:29pm EDT
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By Scott Haggett

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - There will be no repeat of BP Plc's disastrous blowout in the Gulf of Mexico at a deepwater well now being drilled off the Atlantic Coast of the province of Newfoundland, Canadian regulators said on Wednesday.

Chevron Corp's Lona 0-55 well in the Orphan Basin offshore Newfoundland, being drilled in waters nearly twice as deep as BP's well, already faces heightened scrutiny following the April 20 blowout, they said.

That increase in regulatory attention and adherence to existing rules will ensure that a problem at Lona won't result in the same sort of environmental disaster that now threatens the Gulf of Mexico, Max Ruelokke, chief executive of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, told reporters.

"We believe that things that were done in the Gulf of Mexico were not in compliance with the existing regulations in the Gulf and probably not even in compliance with good oil field practice," he said. "We would never allow such a thing to happen. Our policy, procedures, training, equipment are such that it will not happen."

Chevron is drilling the Lona well in water 2,600 meters deep in the Orphan Basin, about 430 kilometers (267 miles) northeast of St. John's, Newfoundland. It's the only deepwater exploration well currently being drilled in Canadian waters.

Canadian governments and regulators are reassessing the country's preparedness for an offshore disaster following the April 20 explosion of Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

The explosion killed 11 workers and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history as crude spews unchecked into the Gulf and repeated attempts to stop the flow come up short.

Ruelokke said that the blowout preventer for the Lona well was tested repeatedly before being deployed and that safety procedures in place would prevent failure of the device, which is designed to sever and seal the well in the event of a blowout.   Continued...