Young unaware of any Paria exec moving aside

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Energy Stuart Young.

ENERGY Minister Stuart Young said he is unaware of any considerations by Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd for any of its executives to temporarily step aside from duty while an investigation is conducted into the February 25 incident at its Pointe-a-Pierre compound, in which four divers died.

While responding to questions from Opposition MPs on the incident in the House of Representatives on Friday, Young began by reiterating his condolences to the families of the four divers and best wishes to Boodram for a speedy recovery.

Following the incident, Young said LMCS Ltd (the employer of the divers) “has been taken off all the work on the pipelines at Paria for the time being.” Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh asked why no similar action had been taken with respect to any member of Paria’s board of directors or management.

Young replied. “It is not the Minister of Energy or anyone in the Ministry of Energy who has taken any of these decisions with respect to Paria’s operations and how they are treating with their subcontractors.”

He added he was unaware of any decisions which Paria’s board or management may be currently considering in relation to the incident.

“At this time, what I am aware of, is that there have been nothing has been sent to me about the removal of any officers. Not that that that needs to be sent to the Ministry of Energy.”

Reminding MPs about the announcement 24 hours earlier of a five member panel to investigate the incident, Young said, “The Government will not speculate or make any assumptions as to what may or may not have happened that led up to this tragic accident.”

Saying it was wise for everyone to await the outcome of the investigation, Young reiterated, “There is nothing further that can be said at this stage or will be said by the Government with respect to this question at this stage.”

Following the incident, he continued, all major project and non routine operations at Paria have been suspended. Operations are limited to routine maintenance.

Before any project or non-routine work is resumed, Young said, “An external independent review will be done on all risk assessments, methods, statements, hazard analysis prior to the authorisation of work permits internally at Paria included when dealing with subontractors.”

There will also be a meeting with all contractor employees and safety orientations will be re-done for them.

Responding to questions from Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Young said, “There is no concern whatsoever with the composition of the panel and any lack of independence or expertise on their parts.”

The panel is chaired by attorney Shiv Sharma. Former energy executive Eugene Tiah and subsea specialist Gregory Wilson were named as two other members of the panel.

Young said all of the panel’s members “are independent, professional experts, independent of the Government and independent of all operations that may have led to this tragic accident.”

In response to questions from Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee, Young said Paria continues to communicate daily with the families of the divers about how they could help them. Counselling services provided by the company were originally for a one-year period. He was unable to say if any of the families had accepted offers of help from Paria.