Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and spill modelling for ExxonMobil Newfoundland offshore exploration drilling

ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. (ExxonMobil) is proposing to conduct an exploration drilling project within offshore exploration licenses located in the Jeanne d'Arc Basin and the Flemish Pass Basin, approximately 250 kilometers east of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. The proposed Eastern Newfoundland Offshore Exploration Drilling Project would take place over a 12-year period, commencing in 2018 and would allow ExxonMobil to determine the presence, nature and quantities of the potential hydrocarbon resource.

Timeline

  • 2017

    In January 2017, with draft guidelines from CEAA in hand, RPS began to frame the assessment, identify an approach, lay out a scenario matrix, and began to receive model inputs.

  • 2017

    In August 2017, the probability assessment was completed.

  • 2017

    In November 2017, the “Trajectory Modelling in Support of the ExxonMobil Exploration Drilling Project” technical report was completed. 

  • 2017

    In December 2017, pursuant with the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) environmental assessment requirements, the Final EIS was provided to Canadian regulators for review.

  • 2018

    In February 2018, the Metocean Analysis technical report was completed.

  • 2018

    In April 2018, the responses to Information Requests (IR's) from Canadian Regulators was completed.

  • 2018

    The project was completed in April 2018.

1 /07
2017

In January 2017, with draft guidelines from CEAA in hand, RPS began to frame the assessment, identify an approach, lay out a scenario matrix, and began to receive model inputs.

2017

In August 2017, the probability assessment was completed.

2017

In November 2017, the “Trajectory Modelling in Support of the ExxonMobil Exploration Drilling Project” technical report was completed. 

2017

In December 2017, pursuant with the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012) and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) environmental assessment requirements, the Final EIS was provided to Canadian regulators for review.

2018

In February 2018, the Metocean Analysis technical report was completed.

2018

In April 2018, the responses to Information Requests (IR's) from Canadian Regulators was completed.

2018

The project was completed in April 2018.

Key Details

Project Name

ExxonMobil Eastern Newfoundland Offshore Exploration Drilling

Client

ExxonMobil

Location

  • Offshore Newfoundland, Canada

Sectors

  • Ports
  • Water management
  • Oil and gas


Challenge

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 modelling of subsurface blowouts, surface releases, and mitigation/response effectiveness (surface aerial and subsurface dispersant applications), a metocean analysis of wind and currents, and a Risk Assessment (RA) to investigate the likelihood of releases. 

Solution

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. 

Services Provided

Environment:  

  • Ecology – identify potential effects to marine environments 
  • Environmental Impact Assessment – Environmental Impact Statement  
  • Environmental permitting & compliance – Technical reports and numerical modeling completed to meet CNLOPB, CEAA, and NEB requirements 
  • Hydrology / hydrogeology – hydrodynamic modeling of the North Atlantic 
  • Spatial intelligence and GIS – Overlay of oil spill numerical modeling data onto areas of interest (AOI) as well as geospatial depiction of environmental data

Water services: 

  • Water quality modelling and monitoring – provide oil spill modeling that identifies the extent, timing, and potential magnitude of water quality impacts from hydrocarbon releases

 Oceans and coastal: 

  • Coastal and marine geoscience – identification of shorelines, habitat, bathymetry for use in oil spill modeling 
  • Marine emergency response – Use oil spill modeling to guide marine emergency response plans 
  • Maritime infrastructure – Provide risk assessment for exploration drilling associated with new maritime infrastructure 
  • Modelling – Provide computational oil spill modeling and probability assessment of releases 

Exploration and development: 

  • Drilling – numerical modeling of oil spills associated with exploration drilling 
  • Technical studies – numerical modeling of oil spills, probability assessment of releases

Other:

  • Numerical Modeling – unmitigated deep water and surface releases of hydrocarbons, oil spill response (mitigated) hydrocarbon release modeling 
  • Environmental Impact Assessment  
  • Probability Assessment 
  • Regulatory Engagement

Project Statistics

30
day releases modeled for 45 days
113
day releases modeled for 160 days
4
stochastic scenarios modeled
119
individual oil spill simulations per scenario
16
representative deterministic scenarios modeled
3
models; surface oil exposure, water column contamination, and shoreline contact

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