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Montevideo, March 27th 2023 - 01:49 UTC



Peruvian scientists contradict Repsol's account for the oil spill at sea

Monday, January 24th 2022 - 09:58 UTC
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Scientists found there was no connection between the environmental incident and the volcanic eruption of Tonga Scientists found there was no connection between the environmental incident and the volcanic eruption of Tonga

A report issued by Peru's Supervisory Body for Investment in Energy and Mining (Osinergmin) has found that “anomalous waves” were not the cause for the major oil spill off the coast of Ventanilla.

Following an onsite inspection at the Terminal Multiboyas Number 2, a preliminary document by the experts has found there was no connection between the environmental incident and the volcanic eruption off Tonga, which has caused the entire Pacific Ocean to go through a series of events, including high waves in Peru that led to two deaths.

The findings thus contradict Repsol's accounts for the events and believe the cause for the leak was a sudden movement by the Mare Doricum tanker. After these conclusions, the Osinergmin experts asked Repsol to hand over any documentary evidence it had on the events.

“The presentation of all relevant information was required to determine the cause and possible breaches of the regulations, including records of the leak detection system, discharge procedure, status of fact, among others,” Osinergmin said.

Terminal 2 is one of the four that Repsol has installed off the coast of the La Pampilla refinery. Each Multibuoy Terminal is designed for the discharge of hydrocarbons from tankers. It has a submarine pipeline 4,500 meters long and 34 inches in diameter. In addition to two subsea hose trains with a butterfly valve. Each terminal contains 5 mooring buoys.

For the Osinergmin specialists, the rupture of the connection between the Mare Doricum tanker and the Multibuoy Terminal No. 2 would be the reason for the oil leak. “It is hypothesized that the event would have been caused by the breakage of the fastening spigots with the Multibuoy Terminal Number 2, which would have generated a sudden movement of the ship, thus affecting the integrity of the submarine discharge system,” the report found. Anchor lines are ropes used to move a ship by maneuvering it from on board, having previously secured the other end at some point.

As a consequence of the rupture of the clamping spigots, ”it is presumed that a crack has been generated in the connection of the PLEM (Pipeline End Manifold, for its acronym in English) with the train of transfer hoses (of crude oil), which could be confirmed by inspection and analysis of the corresponding failure”, Osinergmin went on.

The submarine PLEM is a metal structure equipped with valves and pipes that facilitate the passage of hydrocarbons, in this case for reception from the Mare Doricum to the La Pampilla refinery.

Given the seriousness of the events, Osinergmin ordered the suspension of the discharge of hydrocarbons at the Multibuoy Terminal of the La Pampilla refinery, while requiring Repsol to submit any information pertaining to the cause of the emergency and a detailed description of it, indicating the specific failure that caused the spill as well as the components of the pipeline infrastructure and accessories (PLEM, transfer hoses and others) that have been affected in Terminal Multibuoys 2 and their current status.

Osinergmin also asked Repsol to report what it did to stop the oil leak, since the hydrocarbon company on January 15, at 5:25 p.m., reported the spill of only 0.16 barrels of oil, which had affected 2.5 m2 of sea, while it is currently estimated that it would be of 6,000 barrels.

According to calculations by the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Control (OEFA), the oil leak has damaged 1,186,966 m2 of the sea.

“Repsol is a multinational company in which environmental sustainability, as well as transparency, are key elements of its management. For this reason, we will be happy to provide all the information that the commission requires, prior coordination of the agenda, in order to be able to attend to it with due priority,” Repsol's Luis Vásquez Madueño wrote to Congress.

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Meanwhile, Peru's government has declared an environmental emergency for three months in the geographical area affected by the oil spill, which by Sunday had spread over 1,800,490 m2 of beach and 7,139,571 m2 of the sea, while cleanup work continued.

According to Repsol, about 1,400 people have been working in the affected areas with support volunteers and staff from the City Councils of Ventanilla and Ancón, while hundreds of people, including merchants, carriers, and fishermen, held a sit-in in Santa Rosa and in front of the Repsol company, demanding solutions from the Spanish company. Some of them are scheduled to meet President Pedro Castillo Terrones Monday.

Repsol has nonetheless announced the rescue of marine fauna will be reinforced with a technical team from an international consultant but insisted the spill “occurred due to abnormal waves after the eruption of the Tonga volcano.” The company claimed the attention of the fauna is one of its priorities and for this reason it announced ”the reinforcement of the assistance tasks with the incorporation of the technical team of Aiuká Environmental Consulting, an internationally recognized company in marine fauna rescue activities.”

“Aiuká has already begun to act on the ground, carrying out a patrol together with Repsol personnel from Playa Cavero to Miramar. In the same way, they have carried out a technical visit where the professionals have been in charge of the medical care of the animals that have been rescued to date to provide them with the necessary support,” Repsol said in a statement.

On the other hand, Repsol reported that the clean-up work on land and at sea was progressing favorably.

“The supply of additional protection and absorption and dispersant material continues and the troops deployed are supported by 58 units of heavy machinery, 55 boats, 5 skimmers (marine cleaning equipment), 7 floating tanks and 2,800 meters of containment barrier. installed between Cavero and Faro Chancay,” the company statement went on.

Recent studies in the area have found birds floating lifeless in the middle of a black sea or unable to move due to the viscous layer of oil that completely covers them. In addition to the animals already affected, scientists believe the spill may cause embryonic malformations especially in birds, fish and even turtles.

The spill also has the potential to affect the food chain of other species, including humans, according to scientists.

Categories: Environment, Latin America.
Tags: oil spill, Peru, Repsol.

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