Blown well continues to spew oil into Gulf of Paria

Senior well-control engineers from the United States and the Energy Ministry experts will make a decision by the end of the week, on how to safely stop high pressures of oil and gas from spewing out of a ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Paria.

The emissions have continued to spout over the past 13 days, causing harm to the environment. 

In an interview yesterday, managing director of the Environmental Management Authority Hayden Romano said it was still uncertain how much gas and oil had spilled since the sea-bed well ruptured on July 4.

"All the various professionals have been engaged and they are working assiduously to get to a solution. The big challenge here is to ensure a safe solution but I expect by the end of the week they will have the solution," he said.

Romano said the team, which includes two senior well-control engineers from Boots & Coots Services, one of the leaders in the global energy industry for well control services, have been looking at options. 

"We are not appraised of the options but we expect that they will have it under control very soon," Romano said. Asked who will be paying the foreign experts, Romano said the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries was handling the problem as the well was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry.

He said the EMA had requested details of the extent of the emissions but noted that once the problem is safely brought under control, these statistics will become available.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy said yesterday that meetings are taking place with the fisherfolk, who have been unable to fish in the vicinity of the ruptured sub-sea well.

President of Orange Field Pirogue Owners Association, Christopher John, met with acting permanent secretary in the Ministry Penelope Bradshaw-Niles and other members of the team.

"Members of the delegation were able to get a brief view of the fishing port and facilities in the area before the start of the discussions which were very cordial. John was able to outline the main issues affecting his members, key among which was the need for additional safety markers in the sea around the well," the Ministry said.

Bradshaw-Niles relayed the fishermen's concerns to the Incident Management response team and the Maritime Services Division who made arrangements to have markers installed.

Last week,  Bradshaw-Niles also met with President of the La Brea Fisherfolk Association, Alvin La Borde who reported that oil deposits had washed ashore in the area around Carat Shed Beach.  However,

Romano said these deposits had nothing to do with the ruptured oilwell at Couva platform.

Last week, secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Gary Aboud questioned whether there were other wells in danger of experiencing similar blow-outs.

"There are literally hundreds of decades old, capped, orphaned or abandoned wells which may not have been properly decommissioned, and are corroding. This is not the first time this has happened. Tank 70 erupted in 2017 despite the warnings stated in 2003, Shell Integrity Tank Assessment Report," Aboud said.

He also demanded to know where were the maintenance schedules for abandoned platforms or capped wells, adding, "When was the last time the Ministry of Energy did a safety inspection of the hundreds of abandoned wells in our maritime waters and onshore sites?"

Vice president of the T&T Fisherfolk Association Kishore Boodram said fishermen were staying away from the disaster zone saying if a fire ignites, there could be an environmental disaster in the Gulf. 

He also called on the ministry to conduct regular inspections to prevent any further ruptures of oil and gas installations.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Radhica De Silva)

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