Guyana to test oil spill response capability at Exercise Tradewinds – CDC

Guyana would be testing its capacity to respond to an oil spill at Exercise Tradewinds which is slated for June 2021.

Director-General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig said this exercise is particularly important for Guyana as a new petroleum state, to test its response system.

Director General of the Civil Defence Commission, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig

He made this statement during a virtual capabilities workshop for the exercise which was held today.  Exercise Tradewinds is a regional exercise held annually to test the security apparatus of the military, police forces and other security elements in the Region. It also examines humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Lt. Col. Craig said while the operation is usually centred around relief for natural disasters, it is necessary to test Guyana’s oil spill mechanism and locate resources for assistance.

“This year, we would have changed the focus to look at our oil spill response capabilities or our oil spill response plan and primarily because Guyana is a new oil and gas country and we have also just completed our National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.

So, we think it is timely that we can use this forum to strengthen our oil spill response systems, to test our oil spill response mechanism and to see where best resources are available locally and overseas and within the region, where we can get assistance from our counterparts,” he said.

The Director-General said Exercise Tradewinds 2021 would feature the scenario of a tanker transporting bunkered crude colliding with a fishing trawler, causing a discharge of crude into the Demerara River. It would also include the likelihood of an explosion and fire.

The objectives of the exercise are to activate and test the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan and to test the operator’s response mechanism and equipment deployment.

Lt. Col. Craig said the operator is likely to be US oil company ExxonMobil.

Exercise Tradewinds 2021 will also test external agencies support to the national response and also check the inter-agency communications.

The workshop today aimed at obtaining information from several regional and international agencies that can support Guyana’s response to an oil spill emergency.

Representatives from the US Department of Energy, US Geological Survey, Pacific Disaster Centre, French Armed Forces of the Antilles Office of Planning and Maritime Crisis Management in the Caribbean, US Coast Guard Office of Marine Environmental Response Policy, US Agency for International Development/Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration attended the session.

Local representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oil Spill Committee, Guyana Energy Agency, Guyana Defence Force Air Corps, Ministry of Agriculture Hydrometeorological Service, Ministry of Health, Guyana Revenue Authority, Guyana Marine Conservation Society and Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission also participated in the workshop.

The primary responsibility of the National Oil Spill Committee is to recommend changes to, and implement and maintain the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan which is to be updated every three years.