Our Commitment to the Environment

Oil Spill Prevention
Spill Response
Environmental Effects Monitoring
Fishing Industry Liason
Gas Re-injection

The principles of environmental responsibility and stewardship are integrated throughout the Hibernia organization and are reflected in every action and initiative.

The company is committed to continuous efforts to improve environmental performance throughout its operations.

HMDC continues to work with community groups, regulatory bodies and other interested parties on environmental matters to make decisions which are based on sound science and risk.

All production, storage, off-loading and transportation systems have been designed to minimize the likelihood of any oil spills, large or small. An effective Oil Spill Response Plan has been incorporated into Hibernia's overall emergency response plan. The Oil Spill Response Plan is aligned with or exceeds prevention and response requirements of the national oil spill preparedness and response regime established by regulations under the Canada Shipping Act.

Oil Spill Prevention

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Hibernia has designed its entire drilling and production system to minimize the possibility of a spill. For example, heavy duty blow-out preventers are used to minimize the possibility of spillage during drilling. If any oil should spill or leak onto the platform during normal operations, it will run into the platform drainage system, where a processing system separates the oil from the water and routes it into a holding tank.

When crude oil is brought to the surface, it contains formation and injection water which is removed from the crude in the primary crude processing system. This water is treated before release to the sea to reduce residual oil content to below or at levels that are considered to be protective of the environment. The treated water is monitored on a regular basis to verify the release is conducted in accordance with regulatory requirements.

The GBS itself has a specially-designed and reinforced 15-metre thick ice wall that protects the inner storage cells. The platform can withstand the impact of a multi-million tonne iceberg, although typically icebergs in the Hibernia area are smaller - about 300,000 tonnes - because of the shallow water depths of 80 metres.

The Offshore Loading System (OLS), a network of transmission pipelines that offloads oil from the Hibernia platform onto large shuttle tankers, is also designed with the environment in mind. The flow line running along the sea floor from the platform to the loading system is a heavy steel pipe with a thick protective layer of concrete. HMDC's Ice Management Strategy will keep icebergs away from the platform area but, in the event that an iceberg does encroach into the loading area, the OLS can be flushed to minimize risk to the environment.

Hibernia primarily uses two massive shuttle tankers, weighing in at 127,000 deadweight tonnes. These are ice reinforced, double hull and double bottom vessels with segregated cargo and ballast tanks. The vessels are equipped with two propellers driven by separate diesel engines, two high performance rudders and two bow thrusters, which ensures maximum maneuverability and minimizes the possibility of an oil spill.

Spill Response

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Hibernia has oil spill response equipment positioned on the platform and on its offshore supply vessels enabling timely response to a significant oil spill. Two unique oil spill containment and recovery systems, referred to as single vessel sidesweep systems, are available in the event of a significant oil spill. One of these specialized oil spill containers is permanently located on the platform while the other is located at the shorebase and available for mobilization from shore or for training of response personnel. Further, Hibernia has established Emergency Operations Centres offshore and onshore which are coordinated to manage the entire oil spill response operation through planning, logistics and finance.

For very large spills a third support group referred to as the Emergency Support Group can be mobilized to gain access to resources of Hibernia's shareholder companies and other sources worldwide. In addition, through sharing agreements with other operators,   spill response resources of other operators in the area can be pooled to address a larger spill.

All team members on the Hibernia platform follow specific "best practice" environmental protection procedures in the performance of their duties. All emergency response personnel receive intensive training to prepare them to react quickly and effectively in a spill response situation.

Environmental Monitoring

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An environmental effects monitoring program for producing operations was launched in 1994 to gather environmental information about the area surrounding the Hibernia platform. Water and sediment samples were taken at 46 strategic points within a 16 km radius of the platform site. As well, biological samples were taken of American Plaice, a groundfish that is common in the area. Similar tests were conducted at a control site 50 km northwest of the platform location. This provided Hibernia with important baseline information about the area prior to any major development activity. All tests indicated that the development area and the control area are essentially pristine.


Hibernia continues to conduct an environmental effects monitoring program to verify that the protective measures outlined in the Environmental Protection Plan are indeed protective of the environment. Environmental monitoring field programs were conducted once yearly up to the year 2000, then every two years thereafter. The frequency of these programs may be adjusted over time in response to results and developments in our understanding of marine environmental science. Results to date have verified the no significant effects predictions outlined in the original project environment impact statement.

Fishing Industry Liaison

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In keeping with its commitment to community involvement, Hibernia continues to work closely with representatives of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board and fishers and fish processors that represent Newfoundland and Labrador and Maritimes fishing interests on the Grand Banks.

ONE OCEAN is the liaison organization established by the fishing and petroleum industries of Newfoundland and Labrador. Under the direction of an advisory board, ONE OCEAN promotes mutual understanding between these two vital industries and their common marine environment.

Gas Re-injection

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Whenever oil is extracted from the earth, it contains produced gas which is separated from the oil on the platform during primary processing. The gas is re-injected back into the ground to maintain pressure levels in the reservoir system and to conserve the gas for possible future extraction. As well, a small amount of gas, a clean burning fuel, is redirected to the platform main power generators to meet the platform's own energy needs.
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