by Tina Olivero

    February 15th – The anniversary of the Ocean Ranger disaster

    try me, try me, the waves did tout
    try my winds against your doubt
    take a chance and find the way
    could you save a life along the way

    plan and plot the offshore castle
    kings and queens of Oilers hassle
    feed the energy appetite
    progress and work through the night

    but the sea she said it loud and clear
    I am queen, and ye shall rise in fear
    and yet they built and made the Ranger
    blind to see the eminent danger

    we will concur all with the biggest and best
    a rig to withstand the ocean’s unrest
    but February 15 the night we are damned
    broke the wall of silence between ocean and man

    the Ranger sunk to the bottom of the sea
    84 lives gone instantaneously
    a series of events that were never predicted
    the ocean she scorned and man was evicted

    the people were angry, and the hearts were broken
    the families left with a payment of the token
    the fingers to point and the people to hate
    of watery graves left the shadows of fate

    and so they moved on with new safety regimes
    the problems were analyzed there at the scene
    the systems in place to fix all the wrong
    How could this have taken so long?

    the Hibernia field is flourishing at last
    its foundation built on the pains of the past
    the lives carved out in black history
    gave way to the land of prosperity

    who is to say that it was right or was wrong
    we paid the price with the lives of the strong
    should we be shamed or should we stand tall
    for it is progress for energy with the very last call

    by Tina Olivero

    1982 Ocean Ranger Disaster

    Ocean Ranger

    The Ocean Ranger owned by ODECO was hailed as unsinkable until it sank.


    On February 14th, 1982, waves 50 ft high and winds of 90 knots, pulverized the grand banks.  About 8 p.m. a violent wave broke through a port hole in the ballast control room of the Ocean Ranger.  Saltwater caused the control panel to short circuit which ultimately had the rig list and forward. People were forced to evacuate and jump into the steely cold waters of the Atlantic.  All 84 workers died within minutes of exposure to the severe cold conditions of the water. Onboard there were 46 Mobil employees and 38 contractors from various service companies.  The entire Ocean Ranger platform sank beneath the Atlantic ocean.

    At 00:52 a.m. local time, on 15 February 1982, Ocean Ranger sank in Canadian waters, offshore Newfoundland.  A Mayday call came from the Ocean Ranger, noting a to the port side of the rig and requesting emergency assistance. At 1:30 a.m. local time, Ocean Ranger transmitted its last message: “There will be no further radio communications from Ocean Ranger. We are going to lifeboat stations.” Shortly after that, in the middle of the night, in the midst of severe winter weather, the crew abandoned the rig. The rig remained afloat for another ninety minutes, sinking between 3:07 and 3:13 local time.

    While it was the most modern and tolerant vessel of its time in the world, it still failed the fate of the ocean and her unpredictable perfect storms.

    Early Oil Discovery Offshore Newfoundland

    In the early 1970’s, the Labrador Shelf of Newfoundland and Labrador was a highly prospective exploration area.  First drilled in 1971, by dynamically positioned drill ships the region showed promise in the Jean d’Arc Basin on the Grand Banks.  1973 showed the first signs of oil and the mammoth Hibernia strike happened in 1976.  At this point in history, it became clear that offshore Newfoundland would hold the promise of very lucrative oil fields and a prosperous future.

    The worst incident ever to happen in offshore drilling in eastern Canada was the Ocean Ranger disaster of 1982.  The Ocean Ranger, drilling the Hibernia J-34 delineation well carried a fate that could never have been foreseen for the times. Given the severity of this casualty, the industry was taken back and forced to re-examine operations and safety regimes which then let the way to enhanced safety operations of the future.  Safety quickly became the number one priority of the day.


    Chevron drilled the Hibernia discovery well to earn a commercial interest in Grand Banks acreage held by Mobil and Gulf. The field is 315 km east-southeast of St. John’s was still hailed to be the gateway to the oil and gas future of the province. Between 1980 and 1984, Mobil drilled nine delineation wells in the Jean d’Arc basin. Eight of those wells were successful showing oil reserves at 625 million barrels which were about 40 percent more oil than originally estimated.  Today that has proven even more substantial than anyone had ever predicted with Hibernia South Extension.

    To delineate Hibernia resources, engineering architects built the world’s largest oil platform – the Hibernia Gravity Base Structure (GBS) which sits on the ocean floor approximately 260 ft in depth with its topsides extending approximately 160 ft out of the water.

    Ensuring nothing like the Ocean Ranger disaster happened gain, the Hibernia was built to overcome any sea challenge from rogue waves, fog, icebergs, sea ice, hurricanes and harsh winter storms. The Hibernia platform acts as a small concrete island with serrated outer edges designed to counter icebergs. The GBS contains storage tanks for 1.3 million barrels of oil. The structure weighs 1.2 million tons.

    Hibernia gave way to other oil mega projects. Next discoveries included Terra Nova and White Rose in the mid-1980’s. These projects supported an infrastructure that led to new oil plays in the Jean d’Arc Basin and other basins.  The next project to come on stream offshore Newfoundland, in 2017 is the Hebron project.

    It was the Ocean Ranger that lay the foundation for the success of Hibernia and we have those 84 souls to thank for the prosperity we have enjoyed and for what is to come.  Visionaries and pioneers, the people of the Ocean Ranger gave their lives for our oil and gas industry and for the future of our children.  Was it worth it?  Nobody can really say, but in the same way that a fisherman may lose his life to the sea, we can only have reverence and say we are sorry. And for your bravery, may you always know that we are deeply thankful.

    Did you enjoy this article?

    No comments so far. Be the first! Write your thoughts and/or questions below.

    OGM - Our Great Minds

    * = required field

    We respect your privacy and will never share your information with third parties.