Tuesday, January 23, 2018

‘Results of oil spill probe by week’s end’

Petrotrin’s internal investigation into December’s oil spills will be completed by the end of the week, next week for the latest, president of the State-owned oil company, Khalid Hassanali, said yesterday.

“We have to be careful because it involves people— our employees— so we are fair and equitable in our investigation,” Hassanali told the Express at the 2014 Energy Conference, Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain.

Responding to calls by the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) for an independent investigation into the 11 spills that seriously affected the southwestern peninsula, Hassanali said as per Petrotrin’s rules, whenever there is an incident (to be investigated) a member of the union is nominated to sit on the committee so all members are informed.

“By the end of the week, we will publish the results and the root causes will be apparent. I want to be careful and responsible in all of this,” he said.

Hassanali will be presenting at the Energy Conference today on “The National Oil Spill Contingency Plan in Action: Petrotrin from Impact to Recovery.”

The OWTU continued its protest about Petrotrin and the Ministry of Energy’s handling of the spills yesterday outside the Hyatt Regency during the Conference’s opening ceremony.

“(The union) has not approached me. I saw them this morning and went about my business,” Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said.

“You can sense the environment here at the conference. It is very positive. There is a tremendous amount of activity taking place in the sector and the turnout here is reflective of that,” he said.

Just under 700 people registered to participate in this year’s Energy Conference.

Since the oil spill, Ramnarine said the country has “learnt a lot” about how the handle future incidents in the sector, especially regarding infrastructural upgrades. He said even before the oil spill, the Ministry had been spearheading infrastructural and administrative restructuring.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who was also at the conference, said while he did have confidence in the sector, the oil spill is a different matter.

“The minister has grossly mishandled (the situation) which Petrotrin is covering up. That issue does not go away but we will hear more about it as it goes on because we are insisting there must be a proper independent investigation. Petrotrin cannot be allowed to investigate itself and hide the facts. Their conduct in giving us information that is not the whole story is something Petrotrin should be ashamed of,” Rowley said.