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The first major oil spill in the Gulf of Paria last December 17 could have been avoided if Petrotrin had acted on a 2010 report which recommended that the failed pipeline be replaced. That was the claim of Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget at a press conference at the union’s San Fernando headquarters yesterday. As a consequence, Roget called for the reinstatement of the suspended workers who he claimed did nothing wrong and were only suspended to facilitate a cover-up by Petrotrin. Reading from the October 11, 2010 Sea Line Mechanical Integrity report by the head inspection engineer, Roget said the underwater line in question, line #10, was recommended to be replaced in a phased out basis.
In response, the company maintained last night that it has “adopted an aggressive inspection programme with a frequency well within the API (American Petroleum Institute) standard of 10 years, and has completed several inspections of Sea Line #10 since 2006 and as recently as 2011. In addition, Roget said, the 2010 report stated that the line was last “fully inspected” in 1996, corroborating a Petrotrin-commissioned preliminary report into the December 17 oil spill which stated that the line may not have undergone any major maintenance for 17 years.
The contents of the December 17 report, done by experts from the State oil and gas company, were published exclusively by the T&T Guardian but Petrotrin claimed the report was incorrect. Roget disputed the company’s claim saying it was trying to muzzle the media from reporting “a preliminary report which identifies that this line was not inspected since 1996.
“What in fact they are engaging on is a cover-up,” he added. Roget said the 2010 report recommending the line be replaced was submitted to senior Petrotrin officials, including a current vice- president. In August 11, 2011 the board of directors was also presented with the report, he added. Roget said the marine lines were supposed to be inspected every two years, depending on the degree of exposure.