Thursday, February 22, 2018

Petrotrin ‘committed to transparency in handling oil spills’

 We refer to the editorial published in the Daily Express of April 4, 2014, entitled “Calling Petrotrin to account”, and wish to refute strongly the implications and allegations contained therein.

This Editorial makes serious allegations, which call into question the integrity of our senior management and board of directors as it pertains to Petrotrin’s handling of the oil spills of December 2013 as it states that the company:

• deliberately misled the citizens of 

  Trinidad and Tobago

• engaged in a cover-up to shield 

Petrotrin’s management

• published statements which it knew to be misleading.

Further, other unfortunate assertions are stated as fact in your Editorial, including statements that:

• crucial inspections were postponed or improperly done

• maintenance was not carried out in a thorough or timely manner

• the company failed to meet American Petroleum Institute (API) standards.

Your editorial suggests that these and other factors would have contributed to the spill of December 17, which eventually impacted the La Brea community.

We wish to state categorically that Petro­trin, in keeping with its obligation as a socially responsible corporate citizen, has been transparent and open in its response to the oil spills and has shared all appli­cable information with its publics on a regular basis. There were no attempts at a cover-up, no shading of facts and none of the information shared was designed to mislead our stakeholders. Additional information on related matters was shared with your senior reporter, Ms Camini Marajh, as recently as Friday, March 21.

We maintain that the spill that impacted La Brea was a watershed incident in the history of the energy sector of Trinidad and Tobago, and that some of the evidence presented in December 2013 appeared to have been indicative of sabotage. This evidence has been shared with the police and investigations are ongoing.

A lot of information is now being assessed in hindsight, however, Petrotrin, in activating its emergency response plans in the month of December, responded in keeping with all regulations and based on the information at our disposal at that time. As more information became available, we adjusted our responses to treat with situations as they presented themselves.

In this scenario, we have therefore emphasised repeatedly that our oil spill trajectory model had predicted with a 95 per cent probability that any fuel escaping the containment area in Pointe-a-Pierre would have been on the surface. In a previous spill c-1995, the predictions of the model proved to be 100 per cent accurate. Further, aerial and marine surveillance in the Gulf did not reveal any hydrocarbon outside the containment area and there was no sheen on the water surface between Pointe-a-Pierre and La Brea. 

Additionally, preliminary analysis of the substance then washing ashore in La Brea indicated that key chemical markers differed significantly from those of the bunker fuel that leaked at Pointe-a-Pierre. These were very prelimina­ry tests and the compa­-

ny had stated in all its public com­munica­tions that we were awaiting the results of independent testing from labs in Hous­ton. Those results were only received in January 2014. It is for these reasons that no nexus was established initially between the leak at Pointe-a-Pierre and the spill at La Brea.

With respect to the crude oil that impacted the coast line between Granville and Fullerton, we had indicated very early that it was most likely from Platform 17 and/or Riser 5 in our Trinmar Fields.

We continue to investigate the matter vigorously, and in instances where negligence has been identified, the company has taken and continues to take serious action.

The company remains committed to openness and transparency as it treats with all issues surrounding the oil spills of December 2013.

We hope that you will you give this letter the same prominent treatment as your editorial of Friday, April 4.

Yours sincerely,

Petroleum Company of Trinidad 

and Tobago Ltd (Petrotrin)