Corridor Resources, who wants to drill a first exploratory well on the Newfoundland side of the Old Harry site, has once again been severely criticized, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and by Environment Canada (EC).
Since it submitted its drilling project in Feb. 2011, Corridor Resources is in the process of conducting an environmental assessment. As part of this environmental assessment, the Canada-Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) is requiring that Corridor presents a simulation of an oil spill occuring at Old Harry.
The goal of this modelling is to predict which sectors of the Gulf could be impacted in the event of a major spill, so it is a very important step that should not be taken lightly.
In Dec. 2011, Corridor Resources presented the results of its spill simulation and, lo and behold, the resulting oil slick was predicted to attain only a few kms of diameter and it would evaporate almost instantaneously! This report was then reviewed in March 2012 by EC and by DFO who both concluded the spill simulation was deeply flawed and asked Corridor Resources to go back to the drawing board.
One of the main problems was that Corridor Resources used a very light Cohasset type oil in its modelling, while they should use a much heavier oil to stay on the conservative side.
In early 2012, EC once again asked Corridor Resources to correct the problems identified with its simulation.
In a letter to the C-NLOPB dated April 13 2013, Corridor Resources stated “We do not believe that additional work is warranted on this issue.” Then, in early April 2013, Corridor submitted a revised environmental assessment, but with the same flawed spill simulation results.
On August 19 2013, the C-NLOPB released consolidated comments from DFO and EC on the revised environmental assessment and once again both departments very strongly criticized Corridor’s spill simulation.
According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada: – Corridor and its consultant (SL Ross) have not taken into consideration the daily tides in their simulation ; – Corridor has not taken into consideration the deep layer currents that could carry the spilled oil far inside the Gulf ; – Corridor has employed unrealistic current data : average monthly currents (very weak) instead of instantaneous daily currents (much stronger) ; – Corridor and its consultant have not taken into consideration the experience gained in the Gulf of Mexico ; – The simulation has used a succession of 6-hour long spills without considering the cumulative impact of all these small spills ; – The mathematical model used is validated only for shallow sectors, certainly not the case at Old Harry (470 meters) ;
– This overly optimistic simulation could lead officials to underestimate the risks and be inadequately prepared in case of a spill.