Petrotrin in TT$10m venture to abandon leaking well

(Trinidad Guardian) Unable to successfully clamp a leaking sub-sea Well S-694 in the Soldado Northfields, Petrotrin officials are now moving to engage in a costly TT$10 million venture to abandon the leaking well in the hope of protecting the seas from catastrophe.

A source said a team has been attempting to use cement and mud to stop the leak which has reportedly spewed over 100 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Paria since Monday.

“Petrotrin tried to clamp it but the clamp has failed so they are bringing in a rig to do abandonment which means cementing the well,” the source explained. He noted that the well is remote and the outer casing of the well has continued to leak despite efforts to stop it. The official stated that the abandonment exercise will cost Petrotrin an estimated TT$10 million but this is usually written off by the Ministry of Energy so that it is not recorded in the company’s records.

Petrotrin, in a statement on Wednesday, said only ten barrels of oil had leaked in to the sea but sources said at that time about 30 barrels were recorded. Company officials said the leak has been confined to the immediate vicinity of the facility and is being managed by response personnel on site.

Since the leak occurred, Petrotrin’s Incident Command System (ICS) has been activated.

Aerial, marine and land surveillance exercises are ongoing and so far there has been no sightings of the oil on land.

In an interview on Saturday, managing director of the EMA Hayden Romano said a team from the EMA as well as officials from the Marine Affairs and the Ministry of Energy visited the site and confirmed that drops of oil were seeping from the well.

Romano confirmed that Petrotrin was moving to abandon the well and noted that the company requested a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) to do this.

“They asked us if a CEC can be granted quickly so the abandonment process could occur as emergency work. They want to do the abandonment as quickly as possible. From all accounts it looks like a drip. Our team did not see any patches of oil anywhere,” Romano said. He noted that Petrotrin officials said only one or two barrels of oil has spilled into the sea.

Since the leak was first sighted, fishermen have been bracing for a decline in their catch. President of the Otaheite Fish Vendors Association called on Petrotrin to fix its ageing infrastructure saying whenever there is a leak, customers stay away.

Head of the Icacos Fishing Association Esook Ali also said whenever there is a leak, fish stay away.

He called on Government to negotiate a fishing treaty with Venezuela so that the fishing community could survive.

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