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Lee hits inept ministry

THE Ministry of Energy has shown ineptness by its inability to control the burst oil-well in the Gulf of Paria for almost a week, posing hazards to both marine and human life, Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee said.

“Given that on Thursday evening it was reported that an abandoned well had ruptured, 4.5 nautical miles away from the fishing village of Orange Field, it is quite unacceptable that five days later a highly flammable mix of hydrocarbon and mud is still being consistently spewed some 40 feet above the seabed while further resulting in the formation of a slimy gaseous sludge in the waters of the Gulf of Paria.”

He lamented it had taken three days for the ministry to cordon off the area containing flammable hydrocarbons that could endanger nearby vessels.

“In addition to the health hazards posed to both human and marine life, this situation has deeply affected the livelihood of all the fishermen of Orangefield and would no doubt worsen the dire economic situation many of them already face.”

Lee said the oil spills arising under this government raises questions. Did the ministry undertake regular checks of the asset integrity of all its wells and pipelines, both operational and decommissioned ?

Has the ministry carried out safety inspections of the hundreds of abandoned wells in maritime waters and onshore sites? Had the ministry been up to standard with its asset integrity drive, many of these oil spills could have been prevented, Lee opined.

He claimed the ministry is finding it difficult to locate the well file or records of who controlled the particular well before it was taken over by the Ministry and details of how to stop the spill, as he wondered if they had been keeping proper records of their wells and pipelines.

“The latest step by the ministry to seek foreign help – as state oil company Petrotrin lacks the capacity to fully address the situation – denotes that had this administration not spent the past three years trying to weaken Petrotrin, wasted $63 million in consultancy fees in the past year and had ensured a proper executive leadership team at all times, the State oil company may have been properly organised and equipped to better assist the ministry in alleviating this environmental crisis.”

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