Ministry: 32,000 barrels of hydrocarbon removed from Gulfstream

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, hydrocarbons from an overturned barge pollute the sea near Scarborough in February. – Photo courtesy THA

THE Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries says some 32,000 barrels of recoverable hydrocarbons have been successfully pumped out from the capsized Gulfstream barge off the coast of the Cove Eco-Industrial Estate, Tobago.

In a release on June 29, the ministry said the de-inventory phase of operations on the barge was completed on June 28.

On February 7, the Gulfstream was found overturned and leaking an oil-like substance some 200 metres off the coast of the Cove. It was later identified as bunker fuel.

The vessel was reportedly being towed by tug boat, the Solo Creed, when it overturned on a reef.

Some 15km of Tobago’s southwestern coast were affected by the oil spill, including Kilgwyn Bay, Canoe Bay, Petit Trou Lagoon, Rockly Bay and Topaz Beach.

Earlier this month, the Office of the Chief Secretary reported that a large amount of bunker fuel was discovered drifting away from the barge.

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine had held an emergency meeting with several stakeholders to discuss the development. But the Office of the Chief Secretary said a preliminary assessment indicated there was no immediate threat to the coastline.

But it was believed that the bad weather and sea conditions at that time disturbed the vessel, resulting in the hydrocarbon deposits.

In its June 29 release, the ministry said the de-inventory phase involved pumping hydrocarbons from the wreck to a temporary storage facility at Cove. The hydrocarbons were then loaded onto road-tank wagons and transported to the Port of Scarborough, where it was pumped onto a tanker.

The ministry said de-inventory operations began on April 13 with the first stream of hydrocarbons being received at the Cove facility.

So far, the identity of the owner of the barge has not yet been determined. The estimated cost of the clean up has been estimated to be over $50 million.