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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Aerial and land surveillance around Petro-trin’s land and marine operations have been beefed up as a fifth mysterious oil spill developed in its oilfields, raising speculation of sabotage. The latest leak occurred at the Petrotrin W-D 2 lease operatorship block in Rancho Quemado, Erin, spilling between 80 and 100 barrels of oil on land. The field is operated by Trinity Oil and Gas.
During a press conference held at Petrotrin’s Learning Resource Centre at Pointe-a-Pierre yesterday, Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali said the clean-up at Rancho Quemado would take days. Asked whether sabotage was involved, Hassanali said the leaks were “still under investigation.” Yesterday afternoon, however, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Petrotrin was investigating the leaks as possible acts of sabotage. But, she said, there was no evidence as yet to substantiate this.
“At the moment we cannot blame anyone, but the nature of it indicates there may be sabotage,” Persad-Bissessar said, as she delivered toys to her constituents in Siparia yesterday. Hassanali also warned thieves to refrain from tampering with Petrotrin’s $33 million physical assets. “Tampering with oil and gas assets can be hazardous and dangerous. It can cost you your life,” Hassanali said.
Asked whether the valves were maintained regularly, Hassanali said, “Yes, there is a standard industry practice to check the valves. “We cannot operate hazardous equipment that operates at high pressures without a proper maintenance programme in place.” This is the fifth leak in four days.
On Tuesday a weld leak developed on the No 10 Sea Line at the Pointe-a-Pierre port while fuel oil bunkers were loading a barge named Marabella. Later that same day, a gasket on a 16-inch line on Riser platform 5 in Trinmar’s Main Field, also leaked, spilling oil into the sea.
On Wednesday, thick crude began surfacing at Coffee Beach and Carrat Shed beaches in La Brea, affecting over a dozen fishing vessels. Residents had to be evacuated. On Thursday, a fourth leak was reported at Platform 17 in Petrotrin’s Trinmar Operations East Field. Saying he was concerned about the number of the leaks in such a short space of time, Hassanali said, “We cannot draw definite conclusions at this point in time, but we are investigating.”
He also noted that earlier this year, pipes were removed at Mount Pelle, Chatham, by scavengers of scrap iron. Admitting that it was difficult to monitor every installation, Hassanali said aerial and land surveillance has been boosted. Khalid also revealed that the source of the spill in La Brea was mysterious.
“There are no oil installations on the land in that area. The nearest installation is in Guapo, so it is disturbing. From the helicopter we can find no evidence or traces or sheens or pools moving in the direction of La Brea, so it is certainly mysterious.” He said samples have been taken and are currently being analysed.
Ramnarine: We are boosting security
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said the prevalence of the leaks—which wreaked havoc on plant, animal and human life—was cause for concern. “We are boosting security around all marine installations. We will revise the whole security arrangements in Trinmar and on our land fields,” Ramnarine said. He said he would speak with Petrotrin’s security to install cameras on Petrotrin’s land exploration fields and at the Trinmar acreage.
“We are looking at purchasing some drones—remote controlled aircrafts with cameras. This is a cheap way to monitor our installations,” Ramnarine explained. Manager of Health, Safety and Environment, Sham Deyal, also said yesterday that attempts were being made to contain the spills.
“We are spraying dispersants, and we are using an absorbent which will prevent the oil from sinking. We are scrapping all contaminated materials, sand and other debris and moving them to specific areas.” Deyal said 2,000 feet of containment have been used at La Brea, while a further 1,000 feet has been placed at Vessigny, to prevent the spread of oil. Up to late yesterday, oil was seen along the coastlines of La Brea, Chatham, Granville and Cedros.
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