Terra Nova oil platform ordered to stop all work in confined spaces

Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press

Suncor Energy has been ordered to immediately stop all confined-space work at its Terra Nova oil platform.

It's the third restriction issued by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board related to safety aboard the Terra Nova, about 350 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland, in just over a month.

The provincial oil and gas regulatory board has also ordered that all confined-space work policies and procedures be reviewed by Suncor and updated for compliance with regulatory requirements.

The measures are to ensure worker safety, said a release from the C-NLOPB.

On Dec. 19, Suncor was told to stop production due to defective redundant fire-water pumps on the Terra Nova.

Less than two weeks later, on Dec. 29, a worker aboard the Terra Nova fell from a ladder inside a tank while conducting gas testing aboard the Terra Nova. The employee was flown to hospital after suffering what the board called sustained "non-life-threatening injuries."

As Suncor submitted its review of the incident, the C-NLOPB ordered the company to implement a fall protection system for all ladders above six metres.

The board's most recent order, issued Saturday, comes following the completion of its own review of the incident, and the C-NLOPB has started an inquiry. All issued orders will remain in effect until its completion. 

At that time, the C-NLOPB will also determine if additional enforcement action is warranted.

"Our investigation into the incident is ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, learnings will be evaluated and appropriate actions will be implemented. Our first priority is always the safety of our team and we're committed to taking necessary actions to keep them safe," a Suncor spokesperson said in an email to CBC on Monday evening.

"We are taking this action from the C-NLOPB seriously and assessing our procedures for confined space entry in accordance with the order received."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador