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BP Canada gets green light to restart drilling off Nova Scotia coast after spill

BP Canada gets green light to restart drilling off Nova Scotia coast after spill

HALIFAX — BP Canada has been given the green light to restart drilling operations off the coast of Nova Scotia, a month after the energy giant spilled thousands of litres of drilling mud into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board said Monday it gave the company approval to resume drilling operations late Sunday.

The energy regulator said the leak was caused by a loose connection in the mud booster line.

It said BP has put in place measures to prevent another accident, including replacing a section of the mud booster line and installing a pressure system alarm.

"We have verified that all the responsive steps have been implemented," board CEO Stuart Pinks said in an incident bulletin update.

"We are satisfied that the responsive actions taken, including the additional monitoring and testing that will be done for the remainder of the project, allows for drilling operations to resume safely."

BP Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The leak of 136 cubic metres of synthetic drilling mud from BP Canada's West Aquarius drilling unit about 330 kilometres southeast of Halifax sparked widespread concern about offshore exploration in Nova Scotia.

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs said last month the incident raises questions about the protection of the lands and waters, as well as any species potentially affected by the spill.

Synthetic-based mud is a heavy, dense fluid used during drilling to lubricate the drill pipe and regulate reservoir pressure.

The regulator is continuing to investigate the potential environmental effects of the spill, including reviewing footage of the seabed and analyzing samples of the drilling mud on the sea floor.

A report will be made public once the investigation has concluded, the board said.

Board spokeswoman Stacy O'Rourke said determining if any enforcement actions may be taken — including fines — will be part of the regulator's ongoing investigation.

The Canadian Press