The Caribbean region, including Jamaica and other small island developing states, lacks the resources to combat a major oil spill, delegates to a regional convention on oil spill prevention and response have been warned.
Opening the convention to discuss oil spill prevention, preparedness and response in the Gulf of Mexico, keynote speaker Christopher Cargill, Chairman of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, said that Jamaica and other islands in the region do not have access to vast amounts of resources to combat major oil spills of the magnitude of the BP Deepwater Horizon incident, which occurred two years ago this month in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We understand that the BP Deepwater Horizon incident involved 47,000 persons, 600 vessels and 120 aircraft, and the responders had access to a Spill Liability Trust Fund,” said Cargill. “The development of a mechanism for cooperation is, therefore, a critical part of the preparedness in the region, as Jamaica and other small states will have to rely heavily on their neighbors to the north for assistance in dealing with such events. “
The objective of last week’s convention, held in Kingston, Jamaica from April 11-13, was to further regional preparedness and cooperation to oversee the offshore oil exploration and exploitation industry and to improve oil spill response preparedness and capabilities.
This was third such forum and aimed at completing a Caribbean Multinational Authorities Matrix to aid regional plans toward the offshore oil exploration industry. The previous discussions looked at the legal and policy framework for drilling operations and issues related to preparedness and response to pollution incidents arising from oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
“This meeting was important to Jamaica, as we ratified the IMO Oil Pollution and Response Convention (OPRC) two years ago and are currently incorporating its provisions into national legislation to deal with discharges from oil and gas platforms, among other things,” said Bertrand Smith, Director of Legal Affairs at the Maritime Authority of Jamaica.