Equinor Canada Ltd. (Equinor) is proposing to conduct an exploration drilling project within offshore exploration licenses located in the Flemish Pass Basin, approximately 480 kilometres east of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. The proposed Flemish Pass Exploration Drilling Project would take place over a 10-year period, commencing in 2018 and would allow Equinor to determine the presence, nature and quantities of the potential hydrocarbon resource in exploration licences 1139, 1140, 1141, and 1142.
Accidental discharges of hydrocarbons were modeled by RPS at representative sites bounding the depths and geographic locations throughout the Exploration Licenses. This included the trajectory and fate modeling of hypothetical releases of crude oil from deep-water blowouts at multiple depths, and surface releases of marine diesel from bunkering accidents. OILMAP Deep was used to characterize the near-field conditions of the blowout in the region directly around the wellhead. These results were used to initialize the SIMAP modeling system, which assessed the transport and fate of hydrocarbons throughout the environment. Stochastic analyses provided probabilistic results specifying the likelihood (i.e. probability) and extent of multiple specific threshold exceedances of surface oil thickness, shoreline oil mass, and in water contamination. Deterministic analyses provided specific trajectory and mass balance information for representative 95th percentile cases of surface, shore, and water column contamination. The goal was to determine the range of effects that may be expected in the event of a release. The results were included in the EIS.
Equinor Flemish Pass Exploration Drilling Program
Equinor Canada Ltd.
RPS was contracted to provide support and modeling services. Analyses included portions of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a technical report focusing on trajectory and fate modeling of both subsurface blowouts and surface releases, a metocean analysis of winds and currents, and a Risk Assessment (RA) to investigate the likelihood of releases.
A metocean analysis was conducted to investigate the differences between current (HYCOM) and wind (CFSR) models used in the oil spill trajectory and fate modeling and observational data to verify their validity. Results indicated that both datasets were sufficient to provide the spatial and temporal variability within the environment that would be observed.
A Risk Assessment was conducted (with Environmental Research Consulting, Inc.) to evaluate the spillage probabilities and volumes for identified scenarios. Additionally, oil inputs in the region were investigated in a benchmarking analysis. The modeled blowout scenarios were then compared to other significant blowouts with respect to the release rate, duration, and total volume. These results were summarized in the RA.
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