‘SITUATION TRAGIC’: Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget displays photos of the recent oil spill in La Brea during a press conference at the union’s headquarters in San Fernando yesterday.


Roget claims cover-up

OWTU leader identifies well as source of spill

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

PETROTRIN needs to destroy the oil well that is causing the massive spill across the Gulf of Paria, disrupting more than 100 lives in La Brea alone.
This is according to president of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget.
The OWTU held a press conference yesterday at its Paramount Building in San Fernando to discuss the issue of the recent oil spills, specifically the one at La Brea.
Roget said Petrotrin was well aware of where the leak was occurring, contrary to what was being reported to the media.
Roget read from documents he said were sent to OWTU.
He said at 5.30 p.m. on December 24, a report was sent to the Incident Command Centre concerning the findings at the platforms at Trinity Field Brighton. The platforms are operated by Trinity Oil and Gas, one of Petrotrin’s lease operators.
At platform one, “heavy oil sheen observed running in direction S-N. Leak observed from a casing conductor pipe”.
Roget said: “For those of us who know the offshore drilling operation would know that once a leak is observed from casing conductor pipe that is as serious as can be because that is sub sea. Therefore the remedy for that is to kill the well. All of this was reported to Petrotrin, the very afternoon. No information subsequent to this was made available to the public or to the media.”
He said:” All the clean-up operations would make no sense if the oil well is not killed.”
It was noted that there was no oil spill containment infrastructure available at the platforms, which was in direct breach of health and safety codes, Roget said.
Top officials in Petrotrin and the Energy Ministry should have been aware of that information and all efforts should be made to contain the leak, he said.
To date, Petrotrin has not made public the source of the leak that has sent oil spewing into the waters located along the southwestern peninsula, making it the largest oil spill ever in the country.
And Roget said the oil spill at Rancho Quemado was just a “ cover-up” to divert attention from the oil spill at La Brea.
Describing the situation at La Brea as a tragedy, Roget called for immediate relocation of the affected residents and proper compensation according to international standards when such an incident occurs.
However, he said Petrotrin should not be the one to take full responsibility for the messy situation and it should be Trinity Oil and Gas who should pay compensation.
Roget said Petrotrin was shielding its leased companies and all lease agreements should be made public regarding companies contracted to conduct operations on Petrotrin lands.
He continued his calls for proper management of infrastructure, saying the weather patterns between December and January were terrible and extra care was needed for all offshore platforms.
Roget said because of the tidal wave patterns there was a possibility the oil could reach Venezuelan waters.
A press release issued from Petrotrin on Wednesday stated that, at La Brea, clean-up operations were continuing.
The area was visited by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Christmas Eve. That same day, Petrotrin officials met with foreign members of the Oil Spill Response Ltd’s team, hired to assist in the clean-up operations.
Petrotrin stated: “At La Brea, work continues but significant progress has been achieved and the affected coastline is beginning to look the way it did before the incident. Encouragingly, no new volumes of oil are washing ashore in the affected areas in La Brea.”
In the Coffee Beach area at La Brea, Petrotrin personnel remain on site to address any concerns residents may have.
Petrotrin stated that full and final compensation payments were also made on December 24 to the Fullerton Fisherfolk Association and the Cedros Fisherfolk United. An interim compensation payment was also made to the La Brea Fisherfolk Association. See Page 19
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