Spill Notification Point
Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG)
Staubles Bay Base Chaguaramas
Tel: +1 868 634 4235/4440 or +1 868 634 4439
Fax: +1 868 634 4944
Competent National Authority
Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA)
Maska Building – South Office
South Trunk Road
Tel: +1 868 697 1283 / 1275 or +1 868 697 0546 / 7864 or +1 868 697 1484 / 0115
Fax: +1 868 697 0856 / 7013
The Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs (MEEA) is the lead agency for oil pollution preparedness, response and cooperation. The National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) of Trinidad and Tobago was last revised in 2012 and approved by Cabinet in 2013. Responsibility for development, updating of and amendments to this plan rests with MEEA and it is intended that the Plan is kept current whenever changes to key agencies and/or personnel are made and at least reviewed annually. The NOSCP works alongside the Caribbean Island Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation (OPRC) Plan and follows the tiered approach. Vessel owners, oil and gas operators, oil and condensate-handling and transport facilities operating in Trinidad and Tobago’s EEZ must maintain, in addition to a Tier 1 clean-up response capacity, a Tier 2 response capability by subscription to a dedicated Tier 2 Oil Spill Response Organization (OSRO) resident in Trinidad and Tobago.
In the event of a threat of pollution, an Incident Command Team (ICT) is activated comprising representatives from MEEA, other government departments, regional/borough corporations and the Responsible Party (RP) (the person, business, or entity that has been identified as owning the vessel or facility that caused the spill). The response organisations would utilise the Incident Command System (ICS). An Incident Commander (National Controller) would be appointed from MEEA and would normally be in overall charge of operations and chair the ICT. The MEEA directs the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) as the response agency and plans, prepares and monitors response operations. Support at the operational level would be provided by the Ministry of National Security (MNS). Resources would be co-opted as necessary and all oil spill cleaning tasks would involve resources through the Tier 2 OSRO, the MNS, the Ministry of Works and Transport (MOWT) and the regional corporations.
For the north and east coast Trinidad, booming in open sea is not normally possible due to high energy seas and swells. Application of dispersant may be warranted based on the size of the spill. For the west coast of Trinidad and for Tobago, containment and recovery techniques are an option alongside dispersants. Dispersants can only be used under certain conditions, in particular not less than one nautical mile from any shoreline, nor closer than 3 nautical miles up-current from important marine fisheries or coral reef ecosystems which are less than 20 feet from the water’s surface. The MEEA will be responsible for the approval of the use of dispersants in Trinidad and Tobago waters in accordance with criteria agreed for the Caribbean region unless there are special overriding conditions at the time. Dispersants must not be used in sensitive areas as determined by the MEEA and Fisheries Division and only licensed and approved dispersants are permitted.
The fire service, forestry division and the Environmental Management Authority are responsible for the approval of in-situ burning in Trinidad and Tobago in accordance with criteria agreed for the region unless there are overriding considerations at the time. Safety concerns with regard to the fire and smoke plume must be considered and it must not occur closer than 12 miles from any adjacent island state or territory.
On shorelines, manual clean-up followed by natural weathering of the remaining oil is preferred for ecological reasons. Chemicals used on the shoreline must be approved by the relevant authorities for the intended use. This approval must be obtained in writing, prior to application during an incident. Shoreline clean-up would be conducted by workers mobilised by the Tier 2 OSROs/RP/TTCG. Appeals may be made for volunteer groups to assist from qualified and recognised NGOs.
Government & Private
TTCG possess vessels and a limited stock of equipment. The Air Guard Division of the MNS employs the services of National Helicopter Services Limited for helicopter reconnaissance.
All oil companies based in Trinidad and Tobago, including those operating on a temporary basis, are required to hold stocks of dispersant, booms and mechanical recovery equipment. There are a number of contractors that can provide oil spill response services, for instance, Kaizen Environmental Services (Trinidad) Limited, Earth, Oil Mop Environmental Services, Delta Logistics/Seacor Environmental Services, Tiger Tanks Trinidad Unlimited. Briko Air Services Limited, a private aviation company, possesses aircraft that can be used for aerial dispersant application. They can also provide helicopters for aerial surveillance. Other helicopter providers are Bristow Caribbean Limited and National Helicopters Services Limited. Two of the oil and gas companies - Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Petrotrin) and BP - are full members of Clean Caribbean & Americas (CCA), while BHP Billiton, EOG Resources and Repsol are associate members and can mobilise their resources in the event of a major spill. In addition, Petrotrin, is a member of ARPEL, a reciprocal agreement between Latin American oil companies based in Montevideo, and can call upon this organisation and its member companies for advice and resources.
Previous Spill Experience
In 1979 two laden VLCCs collided off the coast of Tobago causing a major incident. Equipment owned by Clean Caribbean Cooperative (CCC), now called CCA, was used to supplement local resources. A DC-4 aircraft was also brought in from the USA to provide a major dispersant spraying capability. However, the oil dispersed naturally at sea without impacting the coast.
Hazardous & Noxious Substances
It is understood that to date no specific response arrangements are in place in case of an HNS spill. Such an incident would be dealt with in a similar manner as an oil spill incident.
Prevention & Safety
|OPRC '90||OPRC HNS|
* not yet in force
Regional & Bilateral Agreements
- Cartagena Convention (with states of the Wider Caribbean Region).
- A bilateral agreement exists with Venezuela.
Date of issue: October 2003