Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gillette: No more oil spills


MOVING FORWARD: Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali, right, and chairman Lindsay Gillette exchange greetings following yesterday’s news conference at the company’s Pointe-a-Pierre headquarters. ­—Photo: INNIS FRANCIS

Mark Fraser

PETROTRIN’S chairman, Lindsay Gillette, yesterday denied  there were more oil spills in the Gulf of Paria. And he insisted that no oil had spread to the waters off Venezuela.

Gillette said the last oil spill recorded by the State-owned oil company was 15 days ago.

Speaking at a press conference at Petrotrin’s Learning Resource Centre in Pointe-a-Pierre, Gillette said, “As of today there are no more oil spills. And reports of the oil leak going towards Venezuela are not true. We have flyovers on a daily basis and we have not noticed any oil going towards Venezuela.”

Gillette was responding to a statement by president of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud that an oil slick was sighted  in Patos, off the coast of Venezuela.

Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali said the waters off Coffee Beach, La Brea, where the most severe oil spill occurred last month were patrolled regularly.

“We also patrolled the Gulf of Paria, and in vicinity of Coffee Beach area and further out at sea where we had divers and going down and nets drag into the sea deliberately to determine whether there is further evidence of any oil lingering anywhere,” he said.

Hassanali said the company continues to investigate whether there is any residual oil, but none was discovered.

He said of the ten and a half miles of beach impacted by the oil spill, ten miles were already cleaned. Hassanali said 4,000 barrels of oil was recovered. 

He said half a mile of mangrove was being cleaned and is expected to be completed this week.

Hassanali assured citizens that the chemical used to clean the oil slick in La Brea and other areas was approved by the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan. He said the company was working closely with the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

Environmental groups have accused Petrotrin of using a banned dispersant—Corexit 9500—to clean up the oil spill in the southwestern peninsular. 

Hassanali said Kaizen Environment Services was contracted by Petrotrin to monitor the air and water quality during the clean-up.

He said as the clean-up exercise nears completion the company was in negotiations with fishermen for compensation. He said the cost of the clean-up has exceeded $12 million.

“We have completed compensation to fishermen in Fullerton, Cedros. In terms of La Brea we have paid two tranches so far to fishermen and a third tranche is imminent. Some measure of compensation has been paid to fishermen in Otaheite as well,” he said.

Hassanali said the basic needs of residents—food, medical, psychological and employment—were being attended to before compensation.

He said compensation directly related to the oil spills has totalled $2.6 million so far.

Hassanali said fishermen impacted by the ongoing seismic surveys in the Gulf of Paria were also being compensated.