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UPDATE ON OIL SPILLS

By Multimedia Desk

State-owned oil company Petrotrin has become the subject of much scrutiny following several oil spills that were first detected on December 17.


The spills,which covered several coastal areas along the country's south-western peninsula, continues to pose a threat to the ecology of these areas despite cleaning up operations going on apace.


Petrotrin today issued a release detailing the chronological order of the incidents, as they happened, and the company's efforts to bring the spills under control.


Following is the full content of the release:


Petrotrin’s Management continues to engage all available resources in the clean-up activities within the affected areas to ensure minimal adverse effects to the communities and the environment.



CHRONOLOGY OF INCIDENTS OVER THE PERIOD 2013 DECEMBER 17th – 26th



  1. Pointe-a-Pierre, 2013 December 17, Tuesday - A leak was discovered on the No. 10 Sea Line at the Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre Port during fuel oil bunkers loading operations for the barge Marabella. The cause was identified to be a failed chain support not apparently defective during previous routine inspections



  1. Point Fortin, Petrotrin’s Marine Operations, December 17, Tuesday - A gasket on a 16” line on Riser Platform 5 in Main Field area leaked and oil spilled into the sea



  1. La Brea, 2013 December 18, Wednesday - Petrotrin received reports of oil at the Coffee Beach/Carrat Shed Beach areas in la Brea, affecting the beach and fishing vessels



  1. Point Fortin, 2013 December 19, Thursday - An oil leak was reported in the area of Platform 17 in Petrotrin’s Marine Operations East Field



  1. Rancho Quemado – Erin, 2013 December 21, Saturday - Oil leak reported from Lease Operators (to Petrotrin) Trinity Exploration and Production. Two (2) three inch (3”) bull plugs were discovered removed from two (2) separate wellsite production tanks resulting in approximately one hundred (100) barrels of oil being discharged into the environment



  1. Brighton Marine Field2013 December 24, Tuesday - Oil was reported leaking from Well Antilles Brighton Marine (ABM) 151 in the Brighton Marine Field, operated by Joint Venture Operators (with Petrotrin) Trinity Exploration and Production



  1. Brighton Marine Field2013 December 24, Tuesday - A second report was received that oil was leaking from a leaking conductor on well ABM 67 on Brighton Marine Platform 3



  1. Moruga, Hudlin Trace, Rock River Village 2013 December 26, Thursday - Residents reported oil flowing down the Marac River in Moruga and emanating from the Moruga West Joint Venture (with Petrotrin) operated by Neal and Massy Energy Resources Limited (NMERL). A senior NMERL official indicated in a 2013 December 27, Friday newspaper article that “The cause is yet to be ascertained. We are still investigating. It was an old line but in excellent condition.”



  1. Pointe-a-Pierre, Port and Marine Facilities, 2013 December 26, Thursday - It was observed that No. 15 Sea Line, during the pumping of fuel oil to a tanker, became detached from Main Viaduct and fell into the sea, resulting in a quantity of fuel oil being spilled into the sea. The cause was identified to be a failed chain support not apparently defective during previous routine inspections.


PETROTRIN’S RESPONSE


Establishment of Petrotrin Incident Command Centres


Immediately following the initial incidents in the Marine Operations in Point Fortin and the subsequent discovery of oil on the La Brea beaches, Petrotrin established two (2) Incident Command Centres at the Marine Operations Base in Point Fortin and the Point Fortin Central Production offices on 2013 December 17, Tuesday and 2013 December 18, Wednesday respectively to address cleanup, remediation and community and environmental issues.


Surveillance and Fact Finding


Air, Land and sea surveillance of affected areas were conducted to determine the nature and extent of the spill, following which Petrotrin dispersed environmentally friendly shoreline and mangrove cleaning solvents, as well as oil spill sorbent materials to aid in the clean-up efforts.


Petrotrin will continue surveillance of all areas through aerial, sea surface and land patrols to ensure we mitigate against any recurrence or further spread of pollution.


Community Outreach


Affected residents were provided with medical attention, temporary employment and counselling. Alternative accommodation was also offered at the La Brea Community Centre. Meals were provided daily for approximately one hundred residents. Food hampers and toiletries were also distributed to residents.


NOSCP Invoked


Based on the assessment conducted by Petrotrin, a recommendation was made to the Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs for additional support. Following this recommendation, the Honourable Minister invoked the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP).


The NOSCP was triggered to the Tier 3 level on 2013 December 22, Sunday and a national incident Command Team, comprising the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA), the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), the Coast Guard and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established.


Petrotrin simultaneously established its own centralised Incident Command Centre, with its base at the Petrotrin Administration Building in Santa Flora.


Equipment and consumables from Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA were couriered into Trinidad on 2013 December 23, Monday. Trained personnel from the United States of America (USA) and from the United Kingdom (UK) OSRL arrived in Trinidad between 2013 December 23 and 24, Tuesday and Wednesday.


Laboratory Testing


To date, preliminary Laboratory tests conducted on samples of oil taken from the spill in the La Brea area suggest that this spill did not originate from Riser Platform 5, from Platform 17 in the Point Fortin Marine Operations or from the Trinity operated Brighton Marine field. The company has sent samples, including those from La Brea and Pointe-a-Pierre, to the USA for full identification and fingerprinting.


Clean-up Exercises


Most of the affected coastline leading to Icacos Point has been successfully treated with and the Command Centre established by the Company to handle that area was reduced from Level III (high) to Level I (normal surveillance and retrieval) at 2:00 p.m. on 2013 December 25. Further surveillance, monitoring and appropriate cleaning and clearing continue to be conducted via the Company’s normal HSE Response Services.


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.


Sustainability


Despite the proliferation of these unexpected and unfortunate incidents, Petrotrin has maintained its production levels in its Land and Marine Operations.


Petrotrin’s Contribution to the National Economy


The aforementioned actions taken by Petrotrin’s management is in keeping with its recognition that Petrotrin employs in excess of five thousand employees and has significantly more dependent stakeholders.


The company also contributes significantly, not only to the fenceline communities, but also to the finances of Trinidad and Tobago. Annually, the company contributes between two (2) to five (5) Billion Trinidad and Tobago Dollars to the national economy.


Petrotrin continues to recognise and thank all persons, including employees who have been working during the Christmas Season to ensure the well being of the affected communities as well as the environment.


Villager’s Observation in La Brea


“That oil on the beach provides our jobs and livelihood. We all have to work together to put it back into the pipeline to the refinery.”


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