No mention of oil companies’ role in the oil spill response plan

Dear Editor,

Large oil spill in Guyana ‘very unlikely statistically’-Esso’s Henson

I refer to the article at caption,published in Wednesday’s, Stabroek News, and wish to point out that ‘statistics involves the analysis of the frequency of past events’.  I would agree that there have been few large oil spills in deep water operations, so statistically speaking, there is not enough data to predict an oil spill.  However, the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill which occurred in 2010 was significant and this begs the question, what is the probability of such a large oil spill occurring in Guyana?  ‘Probability deals with predicting the likelihood of future events’.

It is laudable that Guyana is conducting oil spill training and has a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan Committee working on drafting and implementing an oil spill plan. However, there is no mention of the oil companies’ role in the oil spill response plan! This is surprising since I would expect that the major oil companies exploring in Guyana are members of the Clean Caribbean & Americas, which is a Tier 3 response organisation.  One would also expect that there would be Tier 1 capability with immediately available response resources for small, operational spills available on site (FPSO).  This would mean that the Guyana Government is planning to have Tier 2 capability with additional equipment in-country.

News articles from other publications have stated that the international experts have been consulted for the drafting of the national oil spill plan.  It was also reported that four containers of oil spill equipment and dispersants would be dispatched to various locations on the coast of Guyana.  It would be interesting to find out if a risk analysis was done and what was the rationale for locating the oil spill equipment at these locations. Assuming that the spill would occur at the Deepwater operations, which is 120 miles from the coast, is it the intention of the National Oil Spill Committee to wait until the spill approaches the coast before responding?  Also, what analysis was done to determine where the oil spill would impact the coast?

Finally, I would like to express my concern about the possible indiscriminate use of dispersants which are being dispatched to the various locations.  Has the local EPA been consulted, and have they approved the use of dispersants in coastal waters of Guyana?  This product was used extensively during the BP Deepwater Horizon spill and there are numerous reports about its negative effects on marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yours faithfully,

T Singh

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