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#384889 - 07/30/10 06:49 PM NO, WE ARE NOT READY!
Marty Offline
Chief Environmental Officer, Mr. Martin Alegria, has said that Belize does have a national emergency plan, specifically targeting oil spills: “We call it NEPPOS for short”, he says. Well at least it has a name.  National Emergency Preparedness Plan for Oil Spills. Impressive sounding name.  However names do not clean up oil spills. People and equipment clean up oil spills. So the man in the street is entitled to ask, which people? What equipment? After all, we were told by Mr. Cho, Director of Geology and Petroleum on a recent Love FM Morning Show that a Common Fund was to be established via government legislation “this year” for the purpose of funding this emergency plan.

So what that actually means is that we do indeed have a plan called NEPPOS, but right now no funding. So presumably that means no people and no equipment actually exist. In spite of this Mr. Allegria, the CEO of the DoE, told us on the same programme that Belize has the capability to respond to a spill of up to ten thousand gallons of oil. Really?  With what? Senator Hulse has this completely right.  “If we don’t have an absolute quick response we may as well not talk about petroleum” Judging by the Morning Show referred to above, there is a concerted effort to confuse the rights and wrongs of offshore oil drilling with the risks of transportation accidents by both land and sea.

There are risks involved in transportation and yes we do need to be ready for them.  However the risks associated with an offshore oil well or multiple oil wells are of a different magnitude altogether, as we have seen in recent months in the Gulf of Mexico.  Some have argued that any spill off our coast might be a lot smaller. So it might, but who is to say that it might not also be a lot bigger? And due to the location of the proposed wells, and the prevailing winds,  computer modeling shows us that the oil will be ashore in Belize in not months, or weeks, or days, but in just a few short hours. We want the Department of the Environment to tell us what the specific plans are for containing an oil spill from an offshore oil rig.

Are they 100% guaranteeing just such a spill would be contained within those few short hours, and our beaches, reef and cayes protected? Consider this: an offshore oil rig has a major spill at 1am . How long will it take the DoE’s NEPPOS vessel (if it exists) to be under way and out beyond the reef to start laying booms? A few hours? Does ANYBODY believe that? The NEPPOS vessel will pass the oil slick on its way out to lay booms. By which time the reef will be coated with oil and ruined, along with our tourism industry , and the livelihood of our 4,000 odd fishermen and their families.

Over the past three months we have all witnessed the struggle between the richest and most powerful government in the world and one of the world’s largest oil companies to finance and manage the disaster in the Gulf. Who can possibly stand up and say our government can do better, or even as well, dealing as we are with largely unknown minor oil companies? You, Mr. Cho? You, Mr. Allegria? Would anyone else like to explain how we could match or come anywhere near the rescue and clean up effort running into billions of dollars undertaken in the Gulf?

Where are the miles of booms, the hundreds and thousands of gallons of dispersants, the thousands of protective Tyvek work suits, the skimmer boats (that not even the US or BP had in adequate numbers) and most of all where is the technical expertise to oversee all this?  Even the US had to appoint a retired Admiral of the US Coastguard because they had no one with the expertise. And so to the key question - where is the money to pay for all that?

The truth is we have a plan in name only. Perhaps somewhere on a bookshelf there is a nice big fat document laying out in the future tense what we need to do, and that’s about it.  If I am wrong, then I challenge the Department of the Environment to tell us where all this equipment is and who will man it and who in their department or in the Fire Department or in the Coast Guard or in the Department of Geology and Petroleum has the experience and technical know how to supervise recovery from an oil spill of any size.  Perhaps they could start by telling us the name of the DOE vessel that will be used for all the offshore supervision  that they say they will do, and who it is who is qualified to carry out those assessments? Or perhaps the oil companies will do their own assessments?

Sir, it is high time for some straight talking on this matter by those responsible, the stakes are too high to allow this to rumble on. The assurances and platitudes we have received so far just do not stand up to close examination. Perhaps a national referendum would help convey the depth of feeling I and many others are experiencing  around the country.

Chris Harris
Chairman, South Coast Citizens for Sustainable Development.

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#384907 - 07/31/10 12:05 AM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: Marty]
Short Offline
That spells exit Chief Environmental Officer, Mr. Martin Alegria, but not yet; after our Prime Minister is back from his well deserved vacation in Miami. He is almost done with Abdulai Conteh so that should clear up his schedule quite a bit!
_________________________
Live and let live

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#385019 - 08/02/10 06:33 AM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: Marty]
Rigrat Offline
Originally Posted By: Marty
 However the risks associated with an offshore oil well or multiple oil wells are of a different magnitude altogether, as we have seen in recent months in the Gulf of Mexico.  Some have argued that any spill off our coast might be a lot smaller. So it might, but who is to say that it might not also be a lot bigger? And due to the location of the proposed wells, and the prevailing winds,  computer modeling shows us that the oil will be ashore in Belize in not months, or weeks, or days, but in just a few short hours. We want the Department of the Environment to tell us what the specific plans are for containing an oil spill from an offshore oil rig.

Are they 100% guaranteeing just such a spill would be contained within those few short hours, and our beaches, reef and cayes protected? Consider this: an offshore oil rig has a major spill at 1am . How long will it take the DoE’s NEPPOS vessel (if it exists) to be under way and out beyond the reef to start laying booms? A few hours? Does ANYBODY believe that? The NEPPOS vessel will pass the oil slick on its way out to lay booms. By which time the reef will be coated with oil and ruined, along with our tourism industry , and the livelihood of our 4,000 odd fishermen and their families.
Chris Harris
Chairman, South Coast Citizens for Sustainable Development.

It will take a matter of minutes for the first oil spill response vessel to be on the site of a drilling related spill, as they are already there. All offshore rigs have what is called a standby boat. These boats have the booms and dispersant on them already.
I have also looked at the computer model of an oil spill offshore Belize being touted around at the moment. I have to say it is has been deliberately massaged to present an impossible worst case scenario. Why was a very heavy oil model used? Perhaps because it wouldn't lose anything to evaporation and so appear more damaging. No heavy oil has ever been discovered in this area so why use it? Why was a 15,000 barrel per day spill rate used when this would not occur offshore Belize. No well has ever been drilled that produces more than 500 barrels per day in Belize. The geology just doesn't support it. Why use such an artificially inflated number? There is so much distortion of actual fact as well as some very exaggerated supposition here. Would it not be more honest if the anti drilling lobby used correct data and actual fact instead of scaremongering lies to build its case?
Also the statement that there is no equipment in Belize is just wrong. BNE has stocks of oil spill equipment at Iguana Creek as well as Big Creek. There is also a very large capacity held in Belize city by Esso.
Then of course we now have the scientists universally agreeing that the GOM spill effects have been grossly over hyped. I would suggest that this is also happening in Belize by people who are not in possession of the true facts or are deliberately choosing to ignore them.

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#385025 - 08/02/10 02:02 PM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: Rigrat]
Mike Campbell Offline
Rig, you still choose to totally ignore the fact that booms don't work in 3-4 foot seas. Instead you pick on other peoples data to strengthen your case. I have asked you repeatedly what equipment there is and you don't really seem to know specifics but are sure its all ok. I have repeatedly asked you why Cho would claim that we 1.5 billion annual income to be derived from offshore drilling when even you say the geology does not support that statement.
The Gulf will recover before the affected populations. Oil company double talk will not save our reef and economy. Why do you pretend that the booms would work in 3-4 foot seas which are the norm offshore Belize when you know it ain't so.
Please address these questions before you pick on other peoples data. Why would you not hypothesize a worst case scenario, doing anything else would not make any sense.

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#385032 - 08/02/10 03:28 PM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: Rigrat]
chris45 Offline
RR, I bow to your experience in telling us what happens on rigs around the world. That was not my point in my open letter to Amandala. My point was "what will happen in Belize?" My concern is that what happens elsewhere on rigs may not happen here. All I asked for was reassurance from DoE They have chosen not to reply.
Again with the equipment, I and many others do not know whether such oil spill equipment exists in Belize, and whether the expertise exists in the DoE. That's why I asked the question. Again the DoE chose not to answer.
OK the DoE is not obliged to answer questions in newspapers, but one has to wonder why? Someone in authority has to answer the questions being raised. I am sure you would welcome a public debate, but how can we debate if we are not given the correct information by those with the responsibility of handling the offshore oil project?
You are quite right in saying that people are not in possession of the full facts. Thats because when we ask, we are ignored. Widespread public concern about offshore oil drilling in Belize is therefore hardly surprising.
With regard to the comments you have made about the MIDAS computer modelling, I understand these are being checked by the Coalition who will no doubt comment in due course.

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#385035 - 08/02/10 03:59 PM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: chris45]
Mike Campbell Offline
Chris, you are 100% right. We need to talk about Belize. The effects of a spill washing upon to on the reef are very different from those of a spill on a sandy beach. It would take decades for the reef to recover any vitality, if it survived. The biggest impact in the Gulf would not as big as the impact on Belize and the coastal communities, that is our personal lives and economies would be devastated far beyond the human tragedies in the Gulf accident. The biggest impact is on the human habitants of the affected areas.
Concerning the computer models I don't have a clue but after working these seas since '87 I know what happens in this area. An example is the origins of the trash I pick from the beach. It comes straight from Jamaica regardless of the prevailing northbound currents. Everything floating, jellyfish, seaweed, plastic is driven by the wind as the primary factor and we have 10 months a yearEast to NorthEast winds. Oil would behave the same for the most part.
If we have a north wind any disabled boat that gets across the reef ends up in Turneffe 3 days later. If disabled north of Lighthouse the prevailing wind puts it on the east side of Turneffe. These are all observed facts. The reason we always have 3-4+ seas in the area is the convergence of the currents and the wind blowing across them. 6-8 foot seas are not at all uncommon and sometimes much larger.

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#385050 - 08/02/10 06:43 PM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: chris45]
Rigrat Offline
Originally Posted By: chris45
RR, I bow to your experience in telling us what happens on rigs around the world. That was not my point in my open letter to Amandala. My point was "what will happen in Belize?"
Exactly the same thing that would happen elsewhere. The standby boat would carry the oil spill response equipment. Backup equipment to reinforce and replace as necessary will be at the rig site in a matter of hours.
Originally Posted By: chris45
My concern is that what happens elsewhere on rigs may not happen here. All I asked for was reassurance from DoE They have chosen not to reply.
Again with the equipment, I and many others do not know whether such oil spill equipment exists in Belize, and whether the expertise exists in the DoE. That's why I asked the question. Again the DoE chose not to answer.
OK the DoE is not obliged to answer questions in newspapers, but one has to wonder why?

But it will happen here. Why should a drilling rig abandon all of its oil spill equipment just because it was coming to Belize? Why do people constantly want to downplay what Belize is actually capable of? The DoE is also not the people to be asking about all of this, have you tried asking the oil companies, and the drilling companies? They are the ones who will take the responsibility and do the work should there be a spill, not the DoE. Plus I can see no earthly reason why they would feel obligated to answer open letters in a newspaper. Have you tried contacting them and arranging a meeting? I found that very easy indeed. Also why not ask Andre Cho who does have this information at his fingertips?
Originally Posted By: chris45
Someone in authority has to answer the questions being raised. I am sure you would welcome a public debate, but how can we debate if we are not given the correct information by those with the responsibility of handling the offshore oil project?
You are quite right in saying that people are not in possession of the full facts. Thats because when we ask, we are ignored. Widespread public concern about offshore oil drilling in Belize is therefore hardly surprising.
With regard to the comments you have made about the MIDAS computer modelling, I understand these are being checked by the Coalition who will no doubt comment in due course

They have never once failed to give me an answer. Sometimes I have asked in the wrong place, or asked the wrong person.

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#385052 - 08/02/10 07:16 PM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: Mike Campbell]
Rigrat Offline
Originally Posted By: Mike Campbell
Rig, you still choose to totally ignore the fact that booms don't work in 3-4 foot seas. Instead you pick on other peoples data to strengthen your case. I have asked you repeatedly what equipment there is and you don't really seem to know specifics but are sure its all ok. I have repeatedly asked you why Cho would claim that we 1.5 billion annual income to be derived from offshore drilling when even you say the geology does not support that statement.
The Gulf will recover before the affected populations. Oil company double talk will not save our reef and economy. Why do you pretend that the booms would work in 3-4 foot seas which are the norm offshore Belize when you know it ain't so.
Please address these questions before you pick on other peoples data. Why would you not hypothesize a worst case scenario, doing anything else would not make any sense.

Mike
I am not at your personal beck and call to answer your questions, especially as you constantly distort what I say for your own ends.
I have said nowhere that containment booms would work in 2-3 foot seas, and in fact you know I have said that they wouldn't. Yet you make flippant comments about me pretending things. Why do you feel that you have to distort what I say?
However absorbent booms do work very well indeed in 2-3 foot seas. In fact they work better for a bit of agitation.
Also I didn't answer your questions because I hadn't gathered all my facts.
Andre Cho was quite correct in saying that there was a potential for 1.5 billion dollars of revenue offshore Belize, and the geology does support it. I have never said it didn't. I have said that the geology doesn't support wells flowing naturally to surface at the huge rates that the coalition is touting. Again, another distortion on your behalf. (I am taking it that he is using the much smaller American Billion here and not the International Billion which is much bigger)
The maths are quite simple.
1,500,000,000.00 divided by an oil price of $80 is 18,750,000 barrels per year. This divided by 365 is a tad over 51,000 barrels per day. Get a well that may produce 500 barrels a day naturally and stick an Electric Submersible Pump in it to boost production to say 2000 barrels a day, and you only need 25 wells to get to this number. That is the potential. The question is, does anything ever reach its full potential? I personally would not have quoted this number to the press because of the feeding frenzy it would generate, and such a number will be used to whip you with later, such as you are trying to do right now.
And again I was not crticising people using a worst case scenario. I was criticising people using an impossible worst case scenario. You constantly demonstrate the worst kind of behaviour commonly seen in opposition groups that fail because of it. You seize upon a small amount of data, exploit it wrongly for your own ends, make up a lot of other totally incorrect 'facts' and then broadcast them from whatever means you can lay your hands upon. The government already knows that the coalition is spouting untrue bullshit, and it is making it very hard indeed to get proper and correct information to them as it is surrounded by this stinking cloud of crap that the coalition is foisting upon them. If you want to be taken seriously, then get your facts correct, and stop the distortion of what other people say.

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#385065 - 08/02/10 08:57 PM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: Rigrat]
chris45 Offline
RR:1. I accept completely what you say SHOULD happen. I question what WILL happen.
2. The DoE are the government department responsible for oil spill safety according to what Mr Allegria said on the Morning Show a few weeks back.
3.The Government of Belize is responsible to the people of Belize who elected them to safeguard the interests of the country. That includes oil spills.
4.My letter posed questions to Mr Cho also. He too chose not to reply.
5. Since you support offshore oil drilling RR, it is perhaps not a surprise that other supporters like DoE and Department of Geology would talk to you. Neither department has shown any interest in talking to ANY environmental groups on ANY subject.A subject which the then Lord Chief Justice Abdulai Contei commented on in the Supreme Court a few months ago in connection with another matter.

The truth is that as you have correctly pointed out, there is a lot of misinformation flying around. All I am trying to do is get it corrected. With the greatest of respect, RR , it is the governments job to keep its people properly informed.

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#385073 - 08/02/10 09:47 PM Re: NO, WE ARE NOT READY! [Re: Rigrat]
Mike Campbell Offline

Mike
I am not at your personal beck and call to answer your questions, especially as you constantly distort what I say for your own ends.
I have said nowhere that containment booms would work in 2-3 foot seas, and in fact you know I have said that they wouldn't. Yet you make flippant comments about me pretending things. Why do you feel that you have to distort what I say? .[/quote]
Rig I do apologize as I do not intend to distort what you say. In fact my statements about the 3-4 ft seas were from you as I dont have first hand knowledge but you said they would not work in those conditions and I know that those are our prevailing conditions.I have never said 2-3 ft seas as that is a very calm day here. I know that you know this as thats where I got the info in the first place. What you ignore or do not acknowledge is that our conditions are usually outside the effective envelop of booms. These questions are in the spirit of debate trying to uncover the truth as we get the mushroom treatment from our government. Cho by the way used the $50 a barrel number and I am sure the number was exaggerated to improve the risk/reward ratio. Yes you can say oh thats only an extra 15 wells. You can justify most any number in that fashion. I am also curious as to why Shell never found these deposits. You have previous said you did not think they would find commercial amounts.
I do recognize your unwillingness to utter anything that could be construed as criticizing govt or oil company practices and it takes away from your believability.
I have no desire to misrepresent what you say and do not think I did. Also you talking about 2-3 foot seas is not not the same as 3-4 ft seas so I am not sure why you chose to do that as a reply to my comments (repeated from you) about 3-4 ft seas.
Lets see we are having production of 50,000 barrels 80,000 daily if you us Cho's $50 a barrel number. You say there is no way we could have a spill of 15,000 barrels a day, not trying to twist your words but it would seem the potential for a series of smaller spills to reach that definitly exists. I will also remind you you said that DWH could never flow the amount it did. It turned out to be one of the biggest ever if I am not correct. Not everything is accurately predictable.

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