Local company launches US$.5M oil spill response operation

Gaico Construction Inc on Friday launched an Oil Spill Response Operation at a cost of US$500,000 that would help to free the environment of pollution, as Guyana prepares to drill for oil.

At a commissioning ceremony, Chief Executive Officer of the company, Komal Singh, noted the greatest risks are from single hull tankers transporting fuel and said there has been a lot of “near misses in Guyana when it comes to spills…”

President David Granger, together with Gaico's CEO, Komal Singh and other dignitaries examining the equipment that would be used to skim the oil during a spill
President David Granger, together with Gaico’s CEO, Komal Singh and other dignitaries examining the equipment that would be used to skim the oil during a spill

Also present at the function, was President David Granger who congratulated Singh on the initiative.

Oil and gas Professor Suresh Narine, in his remarks lauded Gaico for taking the initiative to prepare for the “very real chance of oil spills.”

According to Singh, if a single hull mini tanker runs aground or hits wreckage, there could be a major spill that could cause an entire port to shut down and could pollute the rivers and coastline.

Gaico's oil spill vessel
Gaico’s oil spill vessel
President David Granger speaking to Gaico's CEO Komal Singh following a tour of the vessel
President David Granger speaking to Gaico’s CEO Komal Singh following a tour of the vessel

According to him, “We need to prepare ourselves for it and we need to ensure that we have legislation in place, we need to enforce that legislation so that over a period of time we will have all those single-hull mini tankers traversing our waters upgraded to double hull tankers.”

He said too that if oil gets into the shorelines and the mangroves, it could create a huge disaster.

The company has put systems in place and has invested in a supply boat that can work alongside oil rigs that can take fuel or cargo to different vessels.

The boat also has the capacity to work as a platform for oil spills. The project would be ready in about a month’s time. Should there be a spill, Gaico can respond within 24 hours.

The company already has booms, skimmers and a set of storage tanks that they are putting together. The storage tanks are placed on the barges, which goes out into the spill areas, skims the oil and brings it back to shore.

The company is seeking the requisite approval to set up an oil spill facility that would be referred to as soil remediation, where contaminated fuel would be taken from and processed.

After that the soil would become “good for the environment. The level of contamination would be determined with the number of days it takes to clean it up.” This should be ready in the next five years.

Singh said that a United States-based company, Yellow Fin, has also come on board to provide additional equipment and expertise in case of a huge oil spill.

They would also train companies that sign onto them, on how to deal with oil spills.

With regards to the economy, the businessman said more land must be opened up in order to develop agriculture.

“We must have a 25-year development plan that would see Guyanese driving from Georgetown to Bartica to Lethem. That would create an entire new Guyana…,” Singh said.

“We should not allow oil and gas to be a replacement to our GDP but gas should be a plus to our current GDP. We should continue to develop our current sectors by creating an environment for oil production that would help build the economy.”

He pointed out, “In 10 to 15 years from now when oil and gas come and finish our economy would still have a base that can sustain itself. We should not get carried away with the income that would be generated from oil and gas.”

Investing tremendously in the oil spill sector, Singh said he has “seen a vacuum in the market place and has decided to fill that vacuum with some of our fleets we have in the marine sector.”

During a training recently, he recognized that Guyana was not ready to deal with a major oil spill.

Gaico also celebrated its 25 years of being in the construction business. Last August the company commissioned a wharf facility and trailing suction hopper dredge.

Also present at the function were ministers, Volda Lawrence, Amna Ally, Dr George Norton and Keith Scott, as well as former Commissioner of Police Balram Raghubir and other special invitees.

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