Terra Nova oilfield will reportedly shut down through 2022

Premier Dwight Ball says the Terra Nova oilfield has been “extremely important” for Newfoundland and Labrador, amid reports that Suncor is shutting down production there until 2022.

Ball was responding to a question from the business news website Allnewfoundlandlabrador.com, which broke the news, at the province’s COVID-19 news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re working very closely with Terra Nova. I just had a conversation with our minister, just prior to coming to this media availability today. It’s recent news,” Ball told reporters.

“Of course the offshore industry has undergone tremendous challenges, within the past few months, in terms of the price of oil and of course with Terra Nova they’ve had some other challenges as well.”

Suncor did not return messages from CBC News.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), which regulates the industry, said it has been in talks with Suncor about the requirements for plans to extend the life of Terra Nova.

The board said it sympathizes with the workforce affected by the announcement, but isn’t privy to the commercial considerations faced by Suncor and its partners.

Months offline already

Production has been shut down at Terra Nova since December.

At the time, the C-NLOPB said that Suncor was “not compliant with regulatory requirements … to maintain and comprehensively inspect equipment critical in the safe operation of the installation, to ensure repairs are carried out in a timely manner, and to ensure that mitigation measures are effective in minimizing hazards.”

Specifically, the regulator’s chief safety officer found insufficient availability of redundant fire water pump systems onboard the installation.

In April, the board told CBC News that the water pump issue had since been corrected, but the production suspension order remained in effect “while Suncor carries out other maintenance work and implements corrective actions with respect to their maintenance management system.”

To make matters worse, a planned overhaul of the Terra Nova floating platform at a Spanish shipyard was shelved because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time, Suncor officials said they were “currently evaluating alternate options for the Terra Nova” life extension project.

A year ago, Suncor and its partners sanctioned plans to proceed with a project that will extend the life of the Terra Nova FPSO vessel for a decade, to 2031. 

The aim was to capture roughly 80 million additional barrels of oil. 

However, the future of the project now appears to be in limbo.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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