Hebron platform christened in Bull Arm, just weeks until tow to Grand Banks

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Government officials were in Bull Arm Tuesday morning for the official launch of the Hebron oil platform.

The tow-away ceremony for the massive production facility comes just a few weeks before the $14-billion platform is set to leave Trinity Bay for the Hebron oil field in the Newfoundland offshore.

"We're here today to celebrate the completion of the Hebron platform. We've been building it here at Bull Arm since 2013. This is a fantastic day for everybody who worked on the project, to come to completion," Geoff Parker, senior project manager, said.

"In the month of May we'll be towing the platform 350 kilometres offshore and setting it down on the Grand Banks so we can start drilling and producing oil ... We're still on track to produce oil by the end of 2017."

Those taking part in Tuesday's tour were brought to the platform by ferry and briefed on safety procedures before moving to the helicopter deck and other areas of the facility.

The Hebron oil field is located in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin, southeast of St. John's. The field was first discovered in 1980 and has an estimated 700-million barrels of oil reserves.

Those who built the platform say 40 million work hours went into the project, without any time lost due to injury. The project got the go ahead on New Year's Eve in 2012.

The provincial government expects to make more than $10 billion in royalties and other financial benefits over the life of the project.

The entire structure is 278 metres high, with a diameter of 130 metres around the base. It took 132,000 cubic metres of concrete to build it and contains around 40,000 tonnes of rebar. It also has living quarters for 220 people.

It will be able to produce 150,000 barrels of oil per day at peak production.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball joined other government officials at the tow-away ceremony Tuesday morning, and will take part in a tour of the massive platform that was built by what has been described as a world-class local workforce.

ExxonMobil said the Hebron platform is still on schedule to be towed in May, despite sea ice off the coast of the Avalon.