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White Rose field safe, Husky tells Senate panel

Husky Energy Inc. is confident in the safety systems at its White Rose offshore operations southeast of St. John's, executives from the oil and gas producer told a Senate panel in Ottawa on Thursday.

"The buck stops here," Husky's vice-president for East Coast operations Paul McCloskey told the panel.

"We're absolutely clear when we receive authority to drill we are the operator, and being the operator carries obligations."

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The senators are reviewing the safety of Canada's offshore oil and gas operations following BP PLC's giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The panel raised concerns about the seemingly foggy relationship between energy firms and the Eastern Canada Response Corp., an organization that works alongside companies to clean up oil spills.

ECRC, which is funded by oil companies but regulated by the government, has told the panel it does not see safety plans for an oil spill until after it happens, which suggests there is no external review.

Mr. McCloskey said he was unable to confirm immediately whether Husky has provided the group with advance plans in case an accident ever happened.

"We have an ongoing working relationship with ECRC and do meet with them on a quarterly basis," he said.

"I would've anticipated that there would have been some discussion around our safety plans but I cannot confirm that today."

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One senator emphasized the significance of finding out whether the two sides actually talk in detail about emergency preparedness.

"The plan is given great importance in terms of reassuring the public," he said.

"It blows our minds to think that [the ECRC is]an integral part of a plan that they don't see. We're hoping that was a misunderstanding, perhaps, but we need to clarify."

Mr. McCloskey said Husky has reviewed its own well control systems after BP's spill and the company is confident about the safety of its offshore operations.

He said Husky also plans to have a third party review the operations.

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