PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF OIL FINGERPRINTING ANALYSES - CHAGUARAMAS OIL SPILL

The Institute of Marine Affairs received a report from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) of an oil spill off Carrera Island, Chaguaramas on the morning of October 15th 2017. The IMA along with the EMA and Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) responded and samples were collected from six (6) impacted areas along the peninsula from St. Peters Bay to Scotland Bay on October 16th 2017. Crews Inn was the most heavily impacted area. Oil samples were also initially collected from the Rowan EXLII Rig which was initially suspected as a source and was reported as suspected by the Minister of Planning and Development, however there was no match. Oil fingerprinting results of the samples collected at these six (6) sites indicated that the spilled oil was characteristic of “bilge oil” and not crude oil or a refined oil in origin. Bilge oil represents a mixture of fuel oils and waste oils in water in vessels present in barges and ships.
Oil samples were also collected from two vessels off Five Islands (Secretariat and Captain Alejandro), a sinking vessel at Escondida Bay and the Sea Pioneer off Sealots, Port of Spain. Oil samples were not collected from another potential lead the Liberty Biwater, as no representative was present at the time of sampling and the boat was deemed unsafe to board by Maritime Services Division.
The oil fingerprints of the samples collected from these ‘suspect sources’ did not match the spill samples at Chaguaramas. The investigation to determine the likely source of the spill is on-going. A trajectory model is being used to help identify the possible source. Based on the model, the source of the spill is determined to be east of Point Gourde.
The Minister of Planning and Development, the Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis has been updated on the preliminary findings of the oil fingerprinting and was satisfied that the efforts to establish the source of the spill are being driven by scientific, evidence-
based processes and not speculation. The Minister also continues to closely monitor the
progress of the investigation to ensure that all Authorities involved bring the matter to a
final resolution, with the offending party being held accountable for the incident in
accordance with all applicable rules, laws and regulations of Republic of Trinidad and
Tobago.
The clean-up efforts spearheaded by the MEEI are progressing satisfactorily with several
impacted areas along the Chaguaramas Peninsula already reinstated. The continuous
monitoring of shoreline and offshore Chaguaramas have also been successful as no new
areas have been observed to be impacted by the spill, confirming that efforts to contain
the spill were successful.
The EMA and IMA continue to coordinate activities with the Ministry of Energy & Energy
Industries, supported by the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA), Maritime
Services Division (MSD) and Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) on the
investigation and clean-up following this incident. The Authorities also express gratitude
to those concerned members of the public who have shared information on the incident
and request that the public continue to provide information that may assist with this
investigation by contacting 680-9588 or complaints@ema.co.tt.