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Ancel Roget on oil leaks: Massive cover-up at Petrotrin
President general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget says Petrotrin has identified the source of one of the oil spills along the south-western peninsula since Christmas Eve. Roget called a news press conference at OWTU’s headquarters yesterday where he showed two documents with Petrotrin’s exploration and production department Trinmar Operations letterhead, pointing to an oil leak at Trinity Field Brighton in the Gulf of Paria.
Claiming the discovery of the oil leak was being kept secret, he called on Petrotrin to immediately shut down the well. “Last week we made the point that it was a massive cover-up and the top management of Petrotrin are fully aware of where this oil leak is coming from.” He had claimed some government members and top Petrotrin officials had specific interest in the lease operators.
Recalling that the union had suggested searches for the source of the leak be conducted in the Brighton acreages, he said there was a specific person on the Petrotrin helicopter tours, who kept guiding away from those acreages. The leak, he said, was only discovered on Tuesday because that individual was not on that tour. He said a couple days ago the documents pertaining to the oil leak discovery was dropped off in OWTU’s mailbox.
Quoting from one document, he said Incident Commandant Wayne Mitchell reported that “a large quantity of oil was discovered around the Trinity Platform at Brighton moving in a southernly direction.” Roget said on further inspection by Krishna Lutchman, manager drilling and workovers, around 5.30 pm, Lutchman reported that a heavy oil sheen was observed around platform five and four.
The document further stated, “Heavy sheen observed running in direction S-N. Leak observed from a casing conductor pipe. Platform-9 oil to shore pump skid leaking oil. mono pumps leaking at gland packing, oil falling into sea.” Roget said, “Those of us who know offshore drilling operations will know that once a leak is observe coming 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 Tuesday, December 24. No information about this was made available to the public or the media. “There is a absolute dead silence as to the production of this report which the company top management is aware of as we speak.” In addition, he said, there was also no oil spill containment infrastructure at the Trinity Platform which is a requirement of the Environment Management Authority, OSHA and the Ministry of Energy.
And no type of monitoring system was in place. That was not surprising, said Roget, as little or no maintenance is done on offshore structures, poising a risk to human life and environment. “We call for an immediate and proper attention to first of all the stopping of that leak because no amount of clean-up will suffice if we didn’t stop the leak, they must stop the public relations and go immediately and kill the well and stop all of those leaks.
“Trinity must do proper maintenance to ensure that all of those facilities are safe and all of this talk about sabotage is nonsense.” He reiterated his call for elimination of lease operator and farm-out arrangements and let Petrotrin produce its own oil. The union is demanding that:
• Proper and adequate compensation and relocation to affected residents
• Trinity be held accountable for the oil spill
Asked if the oil spill could spread to Venezuela if it is not contained, Roget said it was possible. He also called for a shake-up in Petrotrin’s board and management. “Heads must roll,” he said, adding that was the only way there can be change in Petrotrin’s operations. Roget also claimed the oil leak in Rancho Quemado caused by an opened valve was a ploy concocted to divert attention from the Gulf of Paria leak.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine were among a team that visited the oil spill site in La Brea. Persad-Bissessar said then the oil spill was contained and clean-up operation were almost complete.
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