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BP Canada reports offshore drilling mud spill

22 June 2018

On June 22, BP Canada reported a leak of about 136,000 litres of synthetic-based drilling mud from the West Aquarius semi-submersible, about 330 kilometres from Halifax off Nova Scotia’s Atlantic Coast. The leak happened about 30 metres below sea level. According to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, the drilling mud is of “low toxicity” and would have sunk to the ocean floor.

West Aquarius - Image: Seadrill
West Aquarius - Image: Seadrill

The board, which regulates offshore drilling off Nova Scotia, said synthetic-based mud is a heavy, dense fluid used during drilling to lubricate the drill pipe and overbalance reservoir pressure.

The effects of synthetic-based mud spills were typically limited to the area immediately surrounding the well site and involved physical smothering of the seabed due by the mud.

Drilling has been suspended on the West Aquarius while the cause of the discharge is investigated. BP Canada will need permission from the board to resume operations.

Anita Perry, regional manager of BP Canada, said her company "takes this incident very seriously and will continue with the investigation to understand the cause."

CNSOPB granted BP Canada Energy Group approval to begin drilling off the province's southeast coast in April.

The Aspy D-11 exploration well is the first of what could be as many as seven exploration wells over a three-year period.

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