Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Trinidad expecting ‘significant sum’ in compensation for oil spill

Published:Friday | May 24, 2024 | 9:17 AM
AP photo.

SCARBOROUGH, Tobago, CMC – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says Trinidad and Tobago expects to receive “a significant sum” in compensation for the ongoing oil spill clean-up in Tobago.

The hydrocarbon spill, which was first spotted off the coast of Tobago's Atlantic Coast on February 7, has damaged some of the island's mangroves and threatened its tourism and fishing sectors.

Rowley, speaking during the “Conversations with the Prime Minister” public programme on Thursday night, said that the oil spill had occurred because of the activities of “people who did not want others to know that they were involved in what was happening there.

“The ocean is a very big place and a lot of things go on there and that's why there is an international body which exists to come to a country's aid if you find yourself being damaged by an oil spill of that nature or similar nature.”

Rowley did not name the international agency, but earlier this month, Energy and Energy Industries Minister, Stuart Young, said Port of Spain had made presentation to the United Kingdom-based International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF) for compensation ranging from US$14 million to US$20 million.

“What we have done so far is that we have appeared before that body, we have made the case. It has been accepted that we qualify for assistance and that programme to get to the point of what we get, how much we get, [and] that is actively on the way.”

Rowley told the audience that representatives from the agency were in Trinidad and Tobago “a few days ago and only yesterday morning Cabinet approved for the requisite officer from Trinidad and Tobago to travel to their headquarters to continue these discussions.

“I think we started out making a claim for an estimate US$30 million…because we don't know the final figure as yet…that has since been reduced to the last figure I saw about US$23 million and when all is said and done, we know the actual expenses, we will know what the figure is.

“But we are there making a claim and we do have a good reception. So how much we don't know yet, but the order will not be an insignificant sum,” Rowley said, adding that much of the money received will go towards reimbursing the various agencies as well as the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) for their participation in their clean up exercise.

“The apportionment will be done by bills being shown to the agency. So we are there and we expecting some significant involvement of that agency,” he added.

Trinidad and Tobago has not yet been able to definitively identify the vessel or owners involved in the oil spill that also entered the Caribbean Sea, threatening Venezuela and other neighbouring countries, including the Dutch island of Bonaire.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries said the government continues to utilise all resources at its disposal to attempt to ascertain and locate those responsible for the oil spill in Tobago.

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