An offshore oil crane silhouette at sunset

Hibernia offshore project marks 25 years of oil production

Widespread benefits include employment, supply chain purchases, and government revenues.

In November 2022, the Hibernia offshore project marked 25 years of crude oil production.

Hibernia is an offshore production platform located at the Hibernia oil field, 315 kilometres east of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), within the Jeanne d’Arc Basin. The Hibernia platform is made of three components: topsides, gravity base structure (GBS), and an offshore loading system (OLS). The topsides facilities accommodate drilling, producing and utility equipment, and provide living quarters for platform workers.

Hibernia oil platform

A special anniversary dinner on November 16 in St. John’s, NL reflects upon the historic achievements associated with Hibernia through keynote addresses and a video presentation.

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“The Hibernia project came to life at a time when Newfoundland and Labrador was facing the economic and cultural challenges of the cod moratorium. Hibernia created thousands of jobs and new government revenue when it was truly needed,” says Stephen Edwards, president of the Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd. “But it brought so much more. Hibernia was truly transformational and the launching pad for the industry in the province; it laid the foundation for the sector. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of first oil, we know Hibernia has the potential to continue providing benefits for our province for another 20 plus years.”

Milestones and highlights

The Hibernia field was discovered in 1979. After seismic exploration and drilling to define the reservoir’s size and extent, in September 1985 on behalf of the Hibernia co-venturers, Mobil filed the Hibernia Benefits Plan and Hibernia Development Plan with the federal and provincial governments. The plan was approved in June 1986 and in December 1988 the Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd. (HMDC) was created to act as the operating company for the Hibernia field.

Drydock construction of platform components commenced in September 1992 at Bull Arm, NL. The platform was carefully towed out to its offshore location in May 1997. Two weeks later, the GBS was installed on the seabed at the Hibernia field and drilling started, with first oil produced in November 1997. In December 2016, HMDC and ExxonMobil Canada announced the Hibernia facility had produced its one billionth barrel of oil.

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Hibernia was expected to have a lifespan of 20 years, but through extended-reach drilling, geological and reservoir modelling technology, and ongoing dedicated maintenance and operation of the equipment, the projected life has been extended beyond 2040. That’s great news for workers and for the economy of NL.

According to the project’s most recent annual report, in 2021 Hibernia employed 1,023 workers of whom 932 were NL residents. During 2021, 7,189 purchase orders for goods and services were awarded, with a total value of more than $380 million. As of the end of 2021, Hibernia and Hibernia Southern Extension owners had paid almost $18 billion under fiscal agreements to the provincial and federal governments since 1997.

Safe operation has been and continues to be an integral part of Hibernia. Lessons learned from other offshore developments are incorporated into the design and operability of the Hibernia production facilities. Safety is an expectation in every decision made by all personnel working with Hibernia.

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Hibernia has generated more than $300 million in research and development. Technology innovation is ongoing, including 2021 research into emissions reduction, and subsea iceberg protection. Hibernia also funds community outreach and education / training, such as supplying automated external defibrillators to more than 100 fishing vessels, and support for the WISE-NL summer student employment program that promotes science and engineering roles for women.

About Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd.

Hibernia Management and Development Company Ltd. (HMDC) is the operator of the Hibernia field. HMDC is owned jointly by ExxonMobil Canada (33.125%), Chevron Canada Resources (26.875%), Suncor Energy (20%), Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation (8.5%), Murphy Oil Company Ltd. (6.5%) and Equinor Canada Ltd. (5%).