– Trotman says T&T to provide assistance
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman has assured that a comprehensive oil spill response plan is being developed through Civil Defence Commission (CDC), which has been identified as the lead agency.
Trotman made the disclosure yesterday at a public lecture on oil spill response hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources in collaboration with the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber (GOGEC) and U.S Oil giant ExxonMobil at the Queen’s College.
According to the Minister, the CDC is being supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Guyana Geologies and Mines Commission (GGMC).
“The training sessions have started and there is a draft plan, but we are two years away from production and so we are constantly revising and updating that plan,” Trotman told the audience.
He noted that in the early period of oil extraction, Government may not have the income to respond, but with oil revenues from the first year, the response will be nationally. In the meantime, Guyana is working with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CEDEMA) and has enlisted support of Trinidad and Tobago through a draft agreement.
The Minister also assured that ExxonMobil, which is getting ready to extract oil in 2020, is required to pay into the environment trust fund that is intended to take care of not only accidents, but to enhance other aspects of protection of our environment.
Although the forum was called to discuss the response to oil spills, the draft plan for Guyana was not shared with attendees. Instead, one of the presenters, Thomas Tomblin, ExxonMobil Oil Spill Response Advisor, sought to assure residents that generally the company’s response to oil spills has been good.
“I have been around the world twice. I have been to a lot of places. There is no place I’ve been to that’s anymore prepared than ExxonMobil here in Guyana. We are prepared,” Tomblin stated.
He also focused on the company’s preventative measures, noting that the incident that occurred in Alaska has shaped a new operations integrity management system approach where workers are held accountable.
“Every place we have been in the world we do things the right way,” he stated.
Exxon has faced challenges globally. The company has faced accusations of not honouring its commitments.
There is the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill which occurred in Alaska on March 24, 1989. The Valdez, an oil tanker, owned by Exxon Shipping Company, was bound for Long Beach, California. On its journey, it struck the Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef and spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil for several days.
Given its effects, it is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. But more than 20 years later, many question whether ExxonMobil actually learned anything from the great Valdez mistake.
On May 1, 2010, a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in the state of Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, spilled more than a million gallons of oil into the delta. The leakage contaminated waters and coastal settlements in the predominantly fishing communities along Akwa Ibom.
Importantly, Nigeria’s authorities flagged ExxonMobil for its response to the oil spill as it sought to use certain chemicals which were proven to be toxic to human and marine life.
Even as early as February of this year, ExxonMobil found itself under investigation after Australian regulators discovered that there was an oily sheen around ExxonMobil’s rig in the Bass Strait of Australia.
The findings of the investigation revealed that it was indeed an oil spill caused by ExxonMobil and worse yet; its failure to properly respond increased the risk of contamination and posed a “significant threat to the environment’.
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