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Canada-Newfoundland oil regulator charges Exxon-owned Hibernia for 2019 oil spill

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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) -A Canadian oil regulator on Tuesday said it has charged Hibernia, an offshore oil company owned by Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Suncor Energy, over a 2019 oil spill.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Petroleum Board laid three charges for the spill, including that Hibernia Management and Development Company did not ensure that its work would not cause pollution and that it failed to follow processes for managing risks.

Exxon is the biggest Hibernia shareholder with a 33% stake.

On July 17, 2019, an oil slick appeared on the water near the Hibernia platform, 315 kilometres (196 miles) offshore from St. John's Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean. Hibernia initially estimated the slick spanning 900 by 20 metres, with a preliminary estimate of the leak of 12,000 litres.

The Petroleum Board did not provide an updated estimate and said it would not comment further with the matter before the courts.

In a statement, Hibernia said it deeply regrets the spill and has taken actions in response to it, but did not provide details.

Chevron and Suncor own about 27% and 20% respectively of Hibernia, with smaller stakes held by Murphy Oil and Equinor ASA.

Canada's offshore oil industry is seeing new investment, with Cenovus Energy in May saying it would restart a project and the Canadian government approving Equinor's Bay du Nord project.

Equinor has not yet made a final investment decision on Bay du Nord.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; editing by Grant McCool)

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