Paria Fuel Trading claps back at LMCS Ltd. statement

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Paria Fuel Trading claps back at LMCS Ltd. statement

Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited claps back at LMCS Ltd. statement on the incident surrounding the rescue and death of the four divers who so tragically lost their lives following a work incident on Friday 25th February 2022, at Paria’s facility in Pointe-à-Pierre.

In a media release issued this evening Paria called LMCS’s release “inaccurate but also unjust.”

This has been a profound loss for the families, their employer LMCS Limited (LMCS), Paria, and indeed, the entire country.“

Understandably, there has been much said about this incident.

Unfortunately, the majority of what has been said with respect to the role of Paria, is not only inaccurate but also unjust.

It is Paria’s considered view, that it was not appropriate at any time prior, to engage in any discourse which would unnecessarily distract from this tragedy and its impact on the families involved.

However, given the decision by LMCS to issue what can only be described as an unfortunate release, Paria is now compelled to provide clarity on certain issues.

Since June 2021, LMCS has been engaged in the maintenance project with respect to the 30” pipeline located at No. 36 Sealine Riser on Berth No. 6 at the Paria facility. Prior to the commencement of this project, the said pipeline had been inactive – since even before Paria commenced operations in December 2018 – and it would remain inactive until the project was completed. It is therefore important to note that there is no pipe connection mechanism, machinery, or equipment whatsoever connected to the section of pipeline under repair, so nothing could have been switched on or activated by Paria, to change the condition of the pipeline while the project was being undertaken by LMCS.

Friday’s incident occurred at around 2:45pm while five divers were working in LMCS’ hyperbaric chamber and were being monitored by LMCS employees on a nearby barge when a splash was observed within LMCS’s hyperbaric chamber and concurrently, video from the cameras within the chamber ceased operating.

Upon being notified of the incident by LMCS, Paria immediately activated its Incident Management Team.

Paria also contacted emergency response organisations, including the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service, Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSH), and the South West Regional Health Authority.

Dive support operators – Mitchell’s Professional Diving Services Company Limited and Offshore Technology Solution Limited – were also contacted. Further assistance was sought from Eastern Divers Company Limited.

The external service providers arrived at various times on Friday evening to assist with the rescue effort. The Commercial Diver Operations Supervisor from Heritage Petroleum Company Limited was also on site to support the Incident Command Team.
Paria was informed by the owner of LMCS, Kazim Ali, that his company would notify the families of its five employees.

As part of its emergency response plan, LMCS launched a search and rescue operation.

An LMCS employee entered the hyperbaric chamber and advised that there was no sign of the divers or the dive cylinders. Paria’s marine security supported the search with vessels, focused on the waters surrounding both the LMCS hyperbaric chamber and the pipeline.
Directors: Newman K. George (Chairman)
Fayad Ali Avie Chadee Peter Clarke Eustace Nancis Reza Salim

Approximately three hours after the start of the rescue operation, it was reported that a sound was heard from inside the pipeline. Mr. Christopher Boodram, one of the five divers, was found in scuba gear as he surfaced at the top of the pipeline within LMCS’s hyperbaric chamber.

Mr. Boodram was pulled out from the top of the pipeline by Mr. Michael Kurban, a diver who was assisting LMCS in its operations.

Mr. Boodram was stabilised and rushed to the hospital for treatment. Paria’s Incident Management Team was informed of Mr. Boodram’s rescue at 5:45pm.

Paria was advised that Mr. Kurban entered the pipeline on more than one occasion in an attempt to locate other divers and was only able to retrieve some diving equipment. No further divers were found.

Mr. Kurban later contemplated other entries which would have involved him proceeding further into the pipeline. It was determined by Paria – and supported by the Coast Guard, the OSH Agency, and external experts – that it was too dangerous for anyone to proceed further into the pipeline without posing significant risk to life.

It is important to note that the vertical drop from the hyperbaric chamber to the seabed is approximately 60 feet within a 30” diameter pipe. By way of video footage from a remotely operated camera sent down into the pipeline, it was discovered that at approximately 80 feet, tanks were wedged against the wall of the said pipeline as it ran along the seabed creating an obstruction which prevented the remote camera from proceeding any further and locating any of the divers.

With respect to the allegation that Paria was uncooperative during the rescue exercise, apart from what is set out above, we acknowledge LMCS’ contribution to the Paria release of February 27th 2022, which reads as follows:

“We have been working closely with Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd. (Paria) from the beginning of the incident to reach our divers. The Paria team has been fully supportive throughout this process and continues to provide all its resources to support our efforts, including people, capability and equipment.”
With regard to informing the families of the deceased LMCS divers that the exercise had moved from a rescue to a recovery operation, this was done by Paria’s management on Saturday 26th February 2022 between the hours of 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

Given the complexities and sensitivities associated with this incident, continued misinformation, speculation and wild allegations only serve to further increase the trauma and hurt of all of those involved, which includes the grieving families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives, along with those who were involved in the rescue and recovery efforts.

On Monday 28th February 2022, the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries announced that there would be an independent investigation into this incident to ascertain the facts and the root cause of the incident. Certainly, Paria will provide any and all of the relevant details, documentation and recordings, and participate fully in the process. We ask that we all await the outcome of the investigations before arriving at any further conclusions.

Paria wishes to express its very deep gratitude to all who participated in the very difficult rescue and later, recovery exercise.

We again unreservedly extend our deepest condolences and our thoughts are with the families, colleagues and loved ones at this extremely devastating time.”