Some of the world’s largest offshore oil companies, including ExxonMobil and BP Canada, have suspended operations and removed workers from their offshore oil platforms as Hurricane Chris advances towards Atlantic Canada.

ExxonMobil has announced that an unspecified number of non-essential employees have been taken to safety off the Sable Offshore Energy platform near Sable Island, 300km south-east of Halifax.

ExxonMobil media relations adviser Julie L King told Offshore Technology: “Based on current forecasts we do not expect it to affect our offshore operations. We are closely monitoring the storm and making appropriate preparations.

“As a precaution, earlier this week we brought ashore a number of non-essential personnel from Thebaud and the Noble Regina Allen. There are typically around 150-160 offshore workers between Thebaud and the Noble Regina Allen. After removing non-essential personnel, approximately 90 personnel remain on the facilities.”

BP Canada has also disconnected and moved its West Aquarius exploration drilling rig as a precautionary measure.

A spokesperson for BP Canada said: “BP is closely monitoring Hurricane Chris to ensure the safety of personnel and operations on the West Aquarius Drilling Unit offshore Nova Scotia.

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“Safety is our top priority and we will continue to monitor weather conditions closely to determine next steps. We remain prepared to respond as conditions warrant.”

In April, BP began drilling the Aspy D-11 exploration well, situated 330km south-east of Halifax in 2,777m water depth. It estimated the drilling programme would take less than 120 days.

Drilling operations have now been suspended until Hurricane Chris passes and sea conditions subside. Operations were previously postponed pending permission from the regulator.

The Category 2 storm was predicted to track south of Nova Scotia before possibly making landfall in eastern Newfoundland later today.

Hurricane Chris is expected to bring heavy rainfall and strong winds to the region, causing up to 8m-high ocean swells in Newfoundland, while Nova Scotia could experience swells of up to 4m.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that the centre of Tropical Storm Chris was moving towards the north-east and is expected to continue for the next two to three days.

The NHC added that the maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 70mph with higher gusts. It said that additional weakening is anticipated during the next few days and Hurricane Chris is expected to be downgraded to post-tropical cyclone later today.