Company operating Hibernia offshore oil platform challenging oil spill charges

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — The company that operates the Hibernia offshore oil platform has pleaded not guilty to three charges related to a 2019 oil spill off the east coast of Newfoundland.

Court documents confirm the Hibernia Management and Development Company entered the pleas Thursday in St. John's provincial court.

A six-week trial is scheduled to begin on July 31.

Earlier this year, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board alleged the company caused the spill and failed to stop it without delay.

As well, the regulator alleged the company did not ensure compliance with its management systems and failed to follow its own processes for managing risks for identified hazards.

The regulator says 12,000 litres of oil spilled into the Atlantic on July 17, 2019.

The Hibernia oilfield, which is owned by several oil giants including ExxonMobil Canada, Chevron and Suncor, is about 315 kilometres east of St. John's.

Last month, oil workers and government officials celebrated the 25th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador's first offshore oil platform. The Hibernia platform began pumping on Nov. 17, 1997.

It has since produced more than 1.2 million barrels of oil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2023.

The Canadian Press