GDF Coast Guard prepped for oil spill management

─ with equipment from CDC

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) on Wednesday handed over a quantity of gear to the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Coast Guard to boost its capacity to manage any eventuality of an oil spill.  The simple presentation ceremony was hosted at the Coast Guard headquarters, Ruimveldt.

The equipment includes 24,000 feet of containment booms, biological and chemical dispersants, hot pressure washers and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Director General of the CDC, Lt. Col. Kester Craig (right) and Commanding Officer, Coast Guard, Lt. Col. Michael Shahoud.

Director General of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig said the exploration, production, transportation, utilisation and storage of oil, gas and petroleum products in inland waters, land territory and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), increase the probability of spills that can affect Guyana’s land and marine ecosystems.

“It is within this context that the Government of Guyana, through various ministries, agencies, and departments, has been building a comprehensive oil spill response mechanism and capabilities to protect lives, the environment and our valuable resources from the threat of oil pollution.

Today’s event is another step in building the country’s response posture to ensure that resources are strategically positioned for quick and effective response in the event of a spill,” he said.

Director General of the CDC, Lt. Col Kester Craig and Commanding Officer, Coast Guard, Lt. Col Michael Shahoud with Coast Guard personnel

The Director General said Guyana is now a rapidly emerging oil producing nation, and while the revenues will transform the economy, there are numerous risks. Marine traffic, especially oil tankers, and cargo vessels in transit through the rivers and coastal waters pose the risk of major oil spills from collision, fire, explosion, and grounding. Pollution can also be caused by vessels pumping out their bilge or otherwise illegally discharging oil, he noted. 

“Pipelines, refineries, and oil handling facilities also pose a threat to both marine and inland environments. International data suggests that 80 per cent of marine oil spills occur within port or harbour areas. These spills are usually small in nature resulting from normal operations such as loading, unloading and bunkering of fuels,” Lt. Colonel Craig said.

Some of the gear the Civil Defence Commission handed over to the GDF Coast Guard to increase their oil spill response capacity.

The Coast Guard is a member of the National Oil Spill Committee and is tasked with the lead response in accordance with the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan. The Coast Guard specifically, is responsible for providing on-scene command and control management, operational response, deployment, and management of resources for containment, removal and disposal of oil waste, establishment of staging areas, provision of maritime security in operating areas and the conduct of search and rescue operations.

Coast Guard Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Shahoud said the capacity of his team is being built through the timely gesture.

Some of the gear the Civil Defence Commission handed over to the GDF Coast Guard to increase their oil spill response capacity.

“This donation couldn’t have come at a better time. It is a step for us. We will now have to build capacity. We will now have to undergo additional training to utilise this equipment and it puts us in a better position to address any instances [of an oil spill],” he said.

The Coast Guard will conduct a gap analysis and capability assessment to determine additional items needed to execute its functions.