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Trinity: La Brea oil spill not our fault

By Carla Bridglal carla.bridglal@trinidadexpress.com

Trinity Exploration has “categorically” denied that the oil spill in La Brea is its fault. 

“The spill that occurred is not our spill. The evidence is out there but I don’t think it’s being articulated clearly,” executive chairman Bruce Dingwall said yesterday in an interview at the company’s Sutton Street, San Fernando, offices.  

“We produce a completely different type of oil and saw no production losses. We are working closely with those parties involved to ensure we as an industry do everything possible to assist,” he added. 

Dingwall said there was also no leak at Trinity’s Well 151, which operates off the southwestern coast in the Brighton field, despite rumours. 

“We monitor all our assets continuously because we’re working out there so there’s a lot of activity and a lot of people passing by,” he said.

Dingwall was joined by Trinity’s chief executive, Joel ‘Monty’ Pemberton.

“The quality of the crude found on the beach and the actual crude produced from the Brighton well have totally different API density indices. It is not our crude; we have the technical evidence, which has been supported by the Institute of Marine Affairs report,” Pemberton said.

Providing samples of the La Brea spill crude and Brighton crude, as well as a map of the flow of ocean currents, Pemberton said had a spill emanated from any of Trinity’s platforms, it would have flowed south, instead of north to Coffee Beach, and the others affected. 

“There is no way that oil spill could have emanated from us; it’s not Trinity’s responsibility at all so where is it coming from? If you follow the currents you might be able to identify where it’s coming from,” he said. 

The information on ocean currents was among the data the company needed to produce in order to be awarded a Certificate of Environmental Clearance in order to drill in the area. 

In addition to spending almost US$2 million in research, as an additional precaution Pemberton said the company trained several La Brea fishermen to be first responders back in October.

When this oil spill happened, he said, Trinity even recommended those people to the clean-up contractors. 

The company, which is the country’s largest independent energy exploration and production company did, however, have to deal with an onshore oil spill at Rancho Quemado on December 21, 2013. 

The Rancho Quemado well WD2 is sub-licenced to Trinity from Petrotrin under a lease operator’s licence. 

“Two bull plugs — plugs right at the bottom of the tank — were removed, which resulted in oil being spilled. That we picked up just about 5.30 a.m.; we have routine visits to that site and the last visit was 1 a.m. and everything was normal. When we discovered the bull plugs were removed we went into oil spill recovery mode to reduce impact. We were able to begin clean-up operations that Saturday and by Saturday afternoon, the area was cleaned up. We recovered about 99 per cent of oil; about 90 barrels were spilled, and we recovered about 85 to 87 barrels. The Environmental Management Authority and the Ministry of Energy visited the next day and we were able to submit a report the Monday. That incident is in no way related to the La Brea area,” he said.

The incident is being investigated, he said, adding that it was “abnormal” that the plugs were removed, because “you really do need someone who understands the nature of that asset and plant to remove those plugs”.

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