The Seadrill West Aquarius has been approved to drill for BP on the Scotian Shelf.

Today, BP has reported a small spill of synthetic lubricating mud at its West Aquarius drill site on the Scotia Shelf drill site, and the government regulator has ordered drilling suspended until an investigation is complete. News of the spill is posted to the incident page of the Canada–Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board website. The incident report reads:

Unauthorized Discharge of Drilling Mud

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.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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