Bnoc slow to act during rupture

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A senior official of the state-run oil company today admitted that resources could have been mobilized in a timelier manner when a natural gas well ruptured recently, causing an environmental scare in communities surrounding its Woodbourne, St Philip headquarters.

Technical Manager of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOC) Mervyn Gordon told Barbados TODAY while there was little that could have been done differently to control the well, the company could have acted with more urgency.

Barbados National Oil Company

Barbados National Oil Company

However, Gordon explained that mixing the chemicals to achieve the desired weight to control the pressure was a time consuming exercise.

“It takes time because you got to be able to dissolve the salt into the water; the matter of trucking and hauling and taking your time to build it to the right weight,” the technical manager revealed. He said officials did not get the chemicals to the correct weight to satisfactorily control the escaping gas by using a mixture that was previously available.

However, Gordon explained that this mixture which was already at hand could have controlled the well but only for a limited period.

“So we then had to go and start the process all over again and making sure we had the heavier weight brine . . . and that worked,” he pointed out.

The BNOC official said that in retrospect the company has also realized that while it focused on closing the well, it was too slow to engage the residents in the surrounding districts, some of whom suffered with respiratory ailments.

“Because we had been concentrating so much on the well, we may have neglected discussions with the residents . . . So that I think is a lesson learnt where the interaction may have been a little more timely with the residents,” he admitted.

He explained that the company has had “very cordial relationships” with the residents throughout the years, dating back to the establishment of the oilfield in 1967.

Meantime, Gordon revealed that the well which caused the environmental scare was back in production.

“Everything is on the ball since we last spoke and we had indicated that we had the well sealed off. We have our pressure gauges in and a couple of days ago, maybe Thursday or Friday of last week, we had been able to open the well into the system, so we are getting a bit of gas coming out of the well which we are putting into our network for sale.”

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