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BPTT takes lead in oil spill management
With the possibility of a major oil spill affecting T&T, energy company bpTT is taking a lead role in training stakeholders involved in disaster preparedness and response. More than 40 high-level personnel from Government agencies and the private sector were recently taken through an intensive two-day workshop on Incident Command System (ICS) facilitated by bpTT’s HSSE (Health, Safety, Security and Environment) department at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre. Tyrone Kalpee, manager, HSSE, bpTT, said that full preparedness in the event of a major incident, such as an oil spill, was a critical tool in ensuring the most efficient and effective response.
A properly coordinated Incident Command System which defines specific lines of responsibility was vital to drive the entire process. As the major energy producer in T&T, Kalpee pointed out, bpTT was committed to equipping the major players in disaster preparedness with best practice techniques and systems. “This workshop came out of a commitment bpTT made to improve preparedness and response. It is essential that all stake holders work together to ensure that we are prepared no respond to an oil spill,” he added. The workshop, which focused specifically on oil spill management, was conducted by United States-based Emergency Management Services International (EMSI), through instructors Douglas Schuster and Jim Elliott. Both Schuster and Elliott are retired US Coast Guard officers, with Type one Incident Command Certification, the highest level in the business.
Among the representatives at the workshop were officials from the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the T&T Coast Guard, the Fire Services, the Water Resources Agency, the Institute of Marine Affairs, the Environmental Agency, as well as companies engaged in the marine sector. Participants were high in praise of the bpTT initiative, with several acknowledging that it was very timely. “It is imperative that the different stakeholders in disaster preparedness are brought together for us to understand all the responsibilities that have to be discharged. It is also critical that a well coordinated chain of command is established to ensure the greatest efficiency and effectiveness,” said Wayne Armour, Lt Commander, Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. Armour pointed out that several agencies, straddling Central and Local Government, and the private sector, all have important roles to play in the event of an oil spill and should clearly understand their line of command and responsibilities.
As Darryl Banjoo, principal research officer, IMA, saw it, there was need for “such an important exercise” and for an incident command system to be implemented in T&T. “With our oil and gas exploration and production, we always have to be mindful of the potential for a major disaster. If we are prepared and act decisively, we can lessen the effects,” Banjoo explained. EMSI instructors Schuster and Elliott both have more than 25 years global experience in disaster preparedness, working in high-level stress incidents such as Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “This initiative is a stepping stone for the fine-tuning of a dedicated Incident Command System for the Trinidad and Tobago environment, which is engaged in substantial oil and gas production which always carries the potential for an oil spill or leak. “It is critical that all individuals involved in the chain of command know their specific responsibilities and how they are supposed to interact with other personnel,” Schuster pointed out.
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