A total of $8 million has been spent so far in cleaning up the oil spills in south Trinidad, says Petrotrin’s chief executive officer (CEO), Khalid Hassanali.
Hassanali was speaking at a news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, yesterday, after he and other officials briefed the National Security Council on the situation.
The money came from Petrotrin, and according to company chairman Lindsay Gillette, much more will be spent in the next few weeks.
Hassanali said 1,200 barrels of oil were collected in the clean-up efforts, which will continue over the next two weeks.
Hassanali also addressed questions with respect to members of the affected community staging protests and blocking the clean-up works.
This, he said, was being fuelled over a fight for jobs.
“Although Petrotrin and its management are doing all that it can in terms of the welfare of the community, there are some members of the community who have been not allowing us, in fact obstructing us, from doing some of our work,” he said.
“I believe some of their concerns have to do with employment. There have been unfortunate incidents in terms of selection of persons to be employed,” he added.
Hassanali said workers were paid $30 an hour, and this was increased to $50 an hour.
He said more than 150 people from the community were employed and in the next two weeks, this number will double as heavy and manual work continues.
He added from the minute the oil-spill disaster happened, Petrotrin has been on top and in control of the situation and provided support and care for the affected people.
Hassanali said medical attention, counselling, meals and employment were given to the affected.
He said further that fishermen will be compensated as Petrotrin is legally obligated to do this and the company also has a moral position to provide to the communities.
Gillette said there were 11 incidents of oil spills from December 17 to 29.
Four of these spill were related to companies that have a joint venture with Petrotrin—Trinity Exploration and Production Company and Neal and Massy Energy Resources Ltd.
“While the sources of these incidents have not been determined, strong evidence suggests direct and wilful acts of sabotage. Two bolt plugs were deliberately removed from tanks in Rancho Quemado, which required specialised tools to remove,” he said.
Gillette said in another incident which resulted in the heavy release of oil, a line was deliberately tampered with.
He said reports were made to the police and the matter was being investigated.
He said 11 oil spills were unprecedented, resulting in a blow to the company.
However, Gillette congratulated Petrotrin’s management for its control of the crisis, adding it was anticipated normalcy will be achieved by the end of February.
Petrotrin’s manager, Health, Safety and the Environment (HSE), Shyam Dyal, said the oil spillsw caused minimal impact to the flora and fauna and best practices were being followed in the clean-up efforts.
Petrotrin’s vice-president, Exploration and Production, Jamaludin Khan, outlined the action the company took in dealing with the oil spills and stressed quick action was taken from day one.
‘Rapid action in dealing with crisis’
Petrotrin ensured a rapid and structured approach was taken in dealing with the oil-spill crisis, says Petrotrin’s vice-president, Exploration and Production, Jamaludin Khan.
He said the first oil-spill incident occurred on December 17 at Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre port where a 16-inch sea line was compromised at 2 a.m.
Khan said an incident-command team was immediately established to address the issue of clean-up, containment and investigation.
The same approach was taken when the spills occurred in La Brea and other areas.
Khan said Petrotrin has been working with the Energy Ministry in carrying out its oil spill-contingency plan.
He said equipment was flown into the country on two cargo planes and experts were brought in from the United States and the United Kingdom to assist in the clean-up efforts.
An incident-command centre was established under the aegis of the Energy Ministry, and Petrotrin also appointed a command team at its Santa Flora base.
“Petrotrin is an extremely responsible oil and gas company and we recognise that our history is more than 100 years old, and we coexist with our fence-line communities very closely and with the environment,” said Khan.