Trinidad News, Tobago News

Welcome to Breaking News Trinidad and Tobago
Thursday, October 19 2017 @ 09:39 PM AST

Trinity refutes oil spills

CAPTION: Rancho Quemado after the same-day cleanup.

Trinity Exploration and Production plc on Friday (Jan 3) refuted the oil spills attributed to it during an interview at the company's head office in San Fernando, Trinidad. Trinity Chairman Bruce Dingwall and Chief Executive Officer Monty Pemberton showed tidal maps to demonstrate that even if its offshore installations were to have a spill - which it did not - the oil would not come up on the shores of La Brea.

Pemberton said: "The oil spill in La Brea is not due to Trinity." Showing glassfuls of crude samples, he showed one with crude rolling off the glass, and another with a thicker viscosity, he said: "This is the crude from our Brighton Field crude (rolling of the glass). This is the crude on the beach at La Brea (visibly thicker)." He said Trinity had to spend about two years getting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and part of it looks at the currents in the entire Gulf of Paria. He showed excerpts from the EIA done by "an independent third party" with the tides flowing far south. "If you had an oil spill in Brighton, the oil would go southerly based on the currents," he said. "It's not Trinity's fault at all."

Asked if he agreed that it was sabotage, he said that was a very strong word, and would only say: "I can very understand why it can be called sabotage, and we are investigating." Pemberton said reports have been made to the police and did not want to comment further on on the ongoing investigations.

He said the one leak of crude on a Trinity site was land-based (onshore) and less than 90 barrels (bbls) which does not qualify it to be even a tier one oil spill. He said it was contained within hours and showed pictures of the cleaned up site. He said a television crew from CNMG viewed the site, as did officials from the government ministries and the Environmental Management Authority. Pemberton said "the word sabotage may be strong" but it is "abnormal" because one has to know how to unfix "bull plugs" affixed to installations.

Pemberton also asked that differentiation be made between what happened onshore and what happened offshore. "The overall oil spill I would say is bad and needs to be cleaned up," he said. It is very important "that we recognise the industry is way too important for the country," he said. He called for everyone to come together to resolve the situation.

Trinity plc founder Dingwall, a UK decorated Trinidad-born North Sea oil veteran, is here from London specifically to deal with the non-factual information circulating about the company. He said: "The important thing is that Rancho Quemado (onshore leak) and the La Brea spill are not related. That's just a coincidence in time." Dingwall is a geologist born in Pointe-a-Pierre.

Pemberton also noted that there were reported leaks in some cases that were not actual oil leaks but "oil sheens." Dingwall said all Trinity had were two "oil sheens," which are very common, and also occur in nature. He said the oil sheens added up to less than 1 bbl. Pemberton and Dingwall said that even if there were to be a spill from one of Trinity's assets, it would be taken far very from La Brea by the tides.

Pemberton said he wanted to see the situation cleaned up and normalise. He underscored the importance of the industry to the country. Asked if he thought it was a coincidence that all the companies that have suffered in the oil spills were local, he said he did not know. He said that while the company is supporting its partner, Petrotrin, the spills were "none of our business."

Dingwall said, "We are very busy. We have a well drilling right here right now. It's a very busy time for us, and obviously we're continuously combing over our assets on a daily and nightly basis." He said the company has rigs drilling here, and the industry is "hugely important (as) a tax revenue generator." He said the industry "does about 48,000 bbls per day" onshore. He said, "That's a huge piece of business for the treasury. With that tail of production we could keep producing for very long time." He said the lease operatorship started in 1986, "when the oil price was very, very low." He said: "The onshore (sector) is in pretty good shape," and "it's important to keep that going, and look after that heritage, and ensure that we continue to invest in that tail of production."

Asked if he was optimistic about the onshore bid round results due out in January, Dingwall said he is "always hopeful."

On the forecast decline in the price of oil, Dingwall and Pemberton said it is not something they overly worry about but they cater for it by hedging. Dingwall said falls in the oil price have been forecast before and never came through.

Trinity's share price has broken out above its initial public offering (IPO). Trading at record highs in the vicinity of 1.40 pounds sterling. Pemberton said: "Petrotrin is our partner, so we are supporting them." He said Trinity had conducted an oil spill workshop in La Brea in October 2013, in the event they had one, which they did not. "That's what we do with our communities," Pemberton said. Tiger Tanks was a partner in the workshop. This is the same company that was called in as one of the first responders to the ongoing spill." Pemberton said Trinity's approach is to "teach a man how to fish rather than give him a fish."

(L-R) Dingwall and Pemberton

Story Options