A letter of protest from the captain of the Italian ship Great Doricum -which unloaded Brazilian oil for a refinery operated by Repsol- has documented nine failures incurred by the hydrocarbon company after the oil spill on Saturday 15 that has contaminated at least 21 beaches in the Lima and Callao regions and two natural areas protected. The environmental disaster has left more than 3,000 fishermen unemployed and thousands of merchants who provided services to swimmers and tourists. The devastation has been advancing for 11 days across the sea heading north, but it could get worse. On Tuesday night, the Navy and the environmental control entity reported a second spill in the same submarine discharge infrastructure in the Callao region (central coast), belonging to Repsol, of eight barrels of crude oil.
According to Peru’s Environment Minister, Rubén Ramírez, Repsol initially reported on the night of January 15 an oil spill of 2.5 square meters and 0.16 barrels in one of the refinery’s terminals, that is, in one of the download. The following day, the company told the press, in a statement, that the “quickly overcome incident” had originated from “wave violence”, as a “consequence of the submarine volcanic eruption in Tonga”. But on Wednesday the 19th, after the viralization of videos of the black sea and coastline, and of dead or dying fauna, executives of the La Pampilla refinery informed Minister Ramírez that there had been 6,000 barrels.
Repsol’s version that the “anomalous waves” caused the leak was denied by the Navy since last Friday, according to Prime Minister Mirtha Vásquez, and later by experienced sailors who on the day and time of the initial spill were in front of the Italian ship and they suspended a regatta because there was no wind or waves. To these are added the observations against Repsol by Captain Giacomo Pisani, who on Monday responded in English to questions from three ministers and a congressman on board his boat, according to the state channel TVPerú, the only one that recorded the dialogue.
The captain’s letter
This Tuesday, during a tour of Ancón -one of the districts with the most affected fishermen and spas- the Minister of the Environment assured that the captain had evidence to deliver: “Apparently there is negligence on the part of the company.” EL PAÍS has had access to photos of the protest letter from the captain of the tanker ship addressed to Repsol Trading Houston and La Pampilla Refinery, in which he records nine irregularities and bad practices committed by the company since they noticed the spill. According to Pisani, Repsol told the ship’s staff that the contamination was under control, but he and his crew found that the containment boom put up by the refinery operator “was not long enough to cover the perimeter of the ship.”
A report from the energy sector regulator, which on Monday 17 visited the place where the leak occurred, recorded only 500 meters of oil containment barriers. The tanker is 272 meters long. The ship’s captain also reported that the company refused to tell him the amount of crude oil it unloaded, which would have made it possible to calculate the precise volume of the leak, nor did it provide him with the work schedule control template.
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On the afternoon of Saturday the 15th, Pisani asked a pilot from a Repsol vessel to board the ship, “to put the ship in position”, but the crew member in charge of the maneuvers boarded seven hours later. It also adds that until the morning of the day after the spill, the refinery operators had not carried out diving operations “to verify the state of the floating hose that caused the spill.” He even described how his ship was filled with oil.
the captain of the Great Doricum prepared the protest letter on Sunday, however, La Pampilla representatives refused to receive the document, Pisani told meeting participants. After the investigation made by the ministers and Congressman Edward Málaga on the ship, Ramírez told state television: “According to the captain, the issue (cause of the leak) was not so much due to the waves. These ships have a great weight -a draft of three blocks- and a swell does not usually have much incidence. And it has also defined responsibility: the ship has responsibility from the connection (of the valves) to the inside of the ship, what connects offshore is the responsibility of the company”, explained the Minister of the Environment.
The sea was calm, as the wind did not exceed two knots that afternoon, said Pisani, who said that his crew is a witness to his statements. The ship, which was carrying a cargo of 987,672 barrels of light crude oil from Petrobras, is still off the coast of Callao, respecting an order not to set sail imposed last Friday by the Directorate of Captaincies, unless it presents a 39 million bail letter of dollars. On Tuesday night, Peruvian engineer Enrique Herrera stressed that all hydrocarbon companies place the oil containment barrier in the sea as a precaution “before the unloading operations begin,” but that Repsol does not apply this practice in any of them. its four terminals at the La Pampilla refinery.
Herrera participated in a series of internet talks organized by the Lima College of Engineers in the wake of the environmental disaster. “This terminal is many years old, approximately 40 years old,” he added. “The entire submarine system is the responsibility of Repsol and there is no reason not to take responsibility for what happened,” said Brazilian specialist Marcus Vinicius Lisboa, who has managed contingency plans for oil spills at Petrobras.
On Tuesday night, the rumor of a new oil spill in the sea in front of the refinery circulated on Twitter. On the morning of this Wednesday, the regulator of the energy sector has confirmed that it is a new spill of eight barrels of crude oil. Around midnight, the Directorate of Captaincies of the Navy confirmed that during an overflight it saw “an oily stain” and, when asking Repsol, the company replied that it was a leak of “oil residues” that occurred before the inspection. and repair of the platform that joins the transport and discharge pipes of the refinery with the sleeves of the cargo ship. Shortly after, the Office of Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) specified in a statement that the spill occurred before an operation on Tuesday the 25th, a maneuver necessary to investigate the spill on January 15.
On Wednesday morning, Repsol released a statement about the spill 18 meters from the sea surface and described it as a “controlled outcrop of remnants of the spill from last January 15”, which was controlled with containment barriers, absorbers and a skimmer, that is, a team for the suction of crude oil.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.