Husky Energy, headquartered in Calgary, recently plead guilty to three charges after it caused the largest oil spill in Newfoundland and Labrador history in 2018.

The oil giant faced several federal charges under the Federal Fisheries Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act, as well as charges for breaching Atlantic Accord regulations that have to do with Newfoundland’s offshore industry.

Three out of six total charges were withdrawn. The company was convicted of resuming production when it was unsafe to do so and for polluting the habitats of fish and seabirds.

Husky Energy faced several federal charges under the Fisheries Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act, as well as charges for breaching Atlantic Accord regulations that have to do with Newfoundland’s offshore industry.

Three out of six total charges were withdrawn. The company plead quilty of resuming production when it was unsafe to do so and for polluting the habitats of fish and seabirds.

The 2018 spill leaked 250,000 litres of crude into the Atlantic Ocean from an oil rig located about 350 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland. A faulty flowline connector to the production vessel caused the spill.

According to a statement of facts read out in provincial court, the leak happened after the vessel halted production to weather a severe storm. Operators began to resume work even though pressure from one of the ship’s flowlines had dropped. They continued to pump oil through the line for over an hour before turning off the taps altogether.

An investigation found that a buildup of ice-like solids called hydrates had accrued inside a commonly used flowline connector. The normal procedure for melting those hydrates, a hot oil wash, didn’t work to melt them. That caused the connector to break free from the flowline, spilling the oil.

The crude dispersed into the water before the company could clean it up. At least six birds died and several more were successfully rehabilitated.

A joint submission from Husky and Crown prosecutors is asking for a sentence that would cost the oil producer $2.5 million in fines and fees, to be paid to a national environmental damages fund. Created in 1995, the Environmental Damages Fund is a Government of Canada program administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The Fund helps ensure that court-awarded penalties are used to repair environmental damage or benefit the environment.

A judge will decide on on the sentence in April. In her ruling on April 26th, the judge has the option of accepting the proposed fine or imposing her own.