Fishery committee thought Shoal Point leak repair was supposed to be permanent

Frank Gale
Published on June 4, 2016

Leakage at the repaired oil well at Shoal Point is seen in this undated photo.

©Submitted photo

When Bob Diamond got a look this week at the Amec Foster Wheeler final report on the Shoal Point oil leak, he was surprised to learn last fall’s repair was only meant to be a temporary fix.

The Port au Port Fishery Committee member said government left the impression a permanent fix was being completed. The report, however, states: “As indicated in the planning stages of this project, the solution implemented by the current contract was meant only to be temporary in nature to control the oil leakages at these locations.”

The report also recommended the wells be decommissioned properly using industry standard techniques and protocols in consultation with regulatory authorities, including provincial Department of Natural Resources.

Another recommendation was for the permanent decommissioning of the well casings as soon as possible to avoid deterioration of the casings.

Diamond said the temporary fix is concerning, especially since it didn’t work.

“A complete assessment of the state of these decommissioned sites needs to be done,” said Diamond. “It’s likely to cost millions of dollars to clean up the mess, and I suggest the provincial government needs the help of the federal government to fix the problem.”

Stephenville-Port au Port MHA John Finn said he was aware since December that the fix was temporary. Finn said he and Environment and Conservation Minister Perry Trimper have both made the issue a top priority.

Finn said department officials have been to the site three times since a new leak was reported recently. He said an official was there two weeks before the latest leak, but there was no seepage at that time.

Finn said the leakage is minimal and is only coming out a drop at a time, but government is looking at consulting experts to determine what options are available.

He said the former administration spent about $275,000 with Amec Foster Wheeler to address the issue.

The MHA said has been in contact with Long Range Mountains MP Gudie Hutchings, who is reaching out to colleagues in Ottawa to determine what, if any help might be available.

Amec Foster Wheeler took on the project to control the leakage of crude oil from an abandoned oil well on the beach at Shoal Point last fall.

In its report, the company said the project met with success, despite a tight schedule and challenges faced due to shortened days and tidal fluctuations.

The general contractor hired for the project, Boyd and Bungay Construction Limited of Stephenville, was reported to have met all of the intended objectives.

Twitter: @WS_FrankGale