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Activists call for faster divestment plan

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Gary Aboud, is concerned that the environment will be at serious risk if exploration work continues without adequate legislation and standards for the di

Secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Gary Aboud, is concerned that the environment will be at serious risk if exploration work continues without adequate legislation and standards for the disposal of drilling liquids. !--break-->

This comes in the wake of the government’s proposals and planned incentive programme for the energy sector stated by Finance Minister Karen Tesheira in the budget presentation last Monday.
Tesheira said the government intended to encourage exploration and production activity in deep waters and has offered six blocks in shallow waters through competitive bidding.
“We still do not have any legislation or standards for the disposal of drilling liquid or dedicated facilities built for internationally recognised standards of disposal,” Aboud said.
He said companies working in T&T’s energy sector, with the exception of foreign companies were carefully disposing of their unlicensed toxic waste.

“The government has been giving approval for incinerators, which is transferring waste from solid to air borne disposal,” Aboud said.
He said the government has given licenses for operators in South and there are several holding ponds that are not reinforced.
“These are liquid holding ponds which dumps into a second and third that are not lined or reinforced,” Aboud said.
He said the toxic waste has been seeping into the ground and can get into the water table.
“We support development, but not in a careless manner or where it is not allowed by foreign companies in their national home,” he said .
He noted that there were already existing oil leaks in the Gulf of Paria.
“There are oil leaks that were documented four years ago. Instead of exposing the marine resources to further degradation, remediation and mitigation against existing facilities that are degrading,” he stated.

He said the government gallops ahead and we have not heard anything about cleaning up the existing degradation onshore and offshore.
“They need to employ people of integrity and greater competence to act in a patriot manner,” Aboud concluded.
Meanwhile, Stephen Cadiz, president of the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce, said the government should seek other forms of revenue.
“The basic concept is that if you are going to diversify, the energy sector must be removed from its current leadership position of 50 to 60 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product down to 25 per cent,” Cadiz said.
“We should make it up from other forms of revenue and export. We must find some other ways,” he said.
He said the effort should be made firstly on agriculture, and the government has failed the agriculture industry in the past few years.
“We should not only cut down on our food bill and feed our selves locally but there are ranges of other things they can do in agro process and more,” Cadiz said.

“All the cheap oil and gas has been found. Shallow exploration has been done,” he said.
He said the government could lose billions on dollars by pursuing its current policies. “It is hugely expensive and you can lose billions of dollars. Now we have to go for expensive oil which presents a major problem for investors. Whether it attracts that remains to be seen,” Cadiz said.
“We can’t depend on international oil companies taking that up because of the cost and if we don’t make the investment toward diversity. We will be in trouble in the future,” he said.