Regulator charges Cenovus subsidiary over 2018 oil spill near Newfoundland and Labrador

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WINNIPEG — A Canadian regulator said on Tuesday that it laid three charges against a Cenovus Energy Inc subsidiary, following a 2018 oil spill off the country’s Atlantic Coast.

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The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board said it filed the charges against Husky Oil Operations Ltd for the spill in the White Rose Field, the largest in the province’s history. Cenovus has since acquired rival Husky.

A leaking flow line from the White Rose Field to the SeaRose storage vessel spilled 250 cubic meters (1,572 barrels) of oil in November 2018, temporarily shutting down all crude production in the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We took full responsibility from the start and worked to identify and implement corrective actions with oversight from the regulator,” Cenovus spokesperson Colleen McConnell said, declining further comment.

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Gretchen Fitzgerald, national program director of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation environmental group, said it was troubling that it took so long for the board to lay charges.

“Three years later, we still have very little information on the impact of the spill or complete records of the damage caused,” she said. “We only know that not a drop of oil spilled was recovered and we’d expect the same result if a spill happened today.”

Cenovus struck a deal last month with Suncor Energy Inc to decrease its stake in White Rose and raise Suncor’s ownership, depending on the restart of a related expansion project.

The first provincial court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 23 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

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