January 23, 2018
For Immediate Release

SeaRose Close Call a Huge Concern Raising Liability Issues; Liberals Silent

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The actions of the C-NLOPB and Husky in the wake of the SeaRose FPSO’s close call with an iceberg in March raise huge issues – including safety and liability – that the Ball Liberals‎ seem not to be concerned about.”

“Husky has admitted it should have responded differently to the threat by following its ice management protocol‎, and they have now replaced a senior management official, indicating the seriousness of the breach,” said Hutchings. “The province will not be earning royalties while the vessel is out of service on the C-NLOPB’s orders. The question is whether Husky should be ordered to compensate the province for those delayed revenues given its responsibility for what has happened.”

Hutchings said, “We are also still asking whether Husky was ordered to do anything different during the ten months following the incident before the C-NLOPB suspended their FPSO operations‎. What if another iceberg threat had occurred a week or two after the March incident? Would they have done things differently? Were they ordered to? The Minister of Natural Resources has been silent on these very important questions. When did the Natural Resource Minister learn of the March 2017 event? Was she engaged with the C-NLOPB on the issue and did she express any concern about operations? Why the current silence?”

Hutchings said, “The company’s development plan was very specific about the ice management protocols that needed to be followed, and the risks to human safety associated with failing to avoid iceberg collisions. An entire operation has been suspended because agreed-to protocols were simply ignored. For what duration were these agreed-to protocols not being followed?”

“The safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the industries operations in this province ultimately rests today on the Liberal government’s shoulders. They need to challenge the C-NLOPB and any operator if there are questions of concern related to safety, the environment and Newfoundland and Labrador’s forecasted dividends from our resources. The Premier and his Natural Resources Minister need to provide answers on what they were doing for the past ten months to protect workers’ safety and ensure rules were being enforced.”

“There has always been a direct line of communication with provincial representatives on the C-NLOPB, but there is no evidence that this was exercised by the Liberal government in responding and understanding what happened in March 2017. And now, we have concerns in the industry from workers, while an operation lies idle and while the revenues we were counting on are not coming in. It’s no way to manage an industry for which Newfoundland and Labrador fought for so long to have joint management responsibility,” said Hutchings.

“This is what the Atlantic Accord was all about: giving the province joint management responsibility for the offshore. But the governing Liberals have apparently fallen down on the job of speaking loudly and clearly on the importance of protecting worker safety, our marine environment, the industry and one of our major sources of revenue, and holding any in the industry accountable when it is required. In this case it is indeed required,” said Hutchings.

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Media Contact:
Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications, Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca