Archive for February, 2007


Oil spill scare hits Antique

February 28, 2007

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Alex Carlo S. Magno
The Daily Guardian, 2007-02-28

RESIDENTS near a fish sanctuary in Pandan, Antique were alarmed upon seeing oil sludge on their coastline Tuesday morning, raising fears of another oil spill.

The sludge, which contaminated 10 meters of the shoreline, was discovered at Brgy. Patria, Pandan by Benny Ariowa, researcher of the Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (Bfarmc) which manages the two-hectare fishing sanctuary in the area.

Ariowa reported his find to municipal and police officials to verify if there was more oil sludge in other parts of the coastal village.

Jomar Pandungan and Efren Unlayaw of the Bfarmc, Pandan police chief Jose Particiala, municipal agriculture officer Ronald Sanchez, environment officer Arnold Demegillo and SB Member Emmanuel Junela conducted an investigation on the barangay.

It was later found out that the oil came from MT Django, a Metro Manila-based tugboat towing a barge loaded with heavy equipment and steel bars to General Santos City.

Commodore Luis Tuason, Coast Guard Western Visayas chief, said MT Django suffered engine problem, particularly on its camshaft, while passing by Patria Point Feb. 17.

“The tugboat is now anchored 550 meters off Patria Pt. while the camshaft is being repaired,” Tuason said.

The tugboat has nine crewmembers led by master Zacarias Punzalan. It is owned by a certain Leandro Jornales of Marikina City.

Reports from Pandan said crude oil leaked from the tugboat during the repair until it accumulated and reached the shoreline.

Tuason said Coast Guard personnel in Pandan and neighboring areas did not see oil slick in the vicinity of Brgy. Patria.

The Pandan municipal government and the Bfarmc are assessing the situation of the sanctuary to find out the liability of the tugboat operator.

Last year, MT Solar 1 which was loaded with bunker oil owned by Petron Corp. sank near Guimaras province, contaminating shorelines, mangrove areas, fishing grounds and seaweed farms.

A barge owned by the National Power Corp. also ran aground near Semirara Island December 2005 spilling 300,000 liters of bunker oil into the sea.


Images of Guimaras oil spill

February 25, 2007

Photos by Arnold Almacen. Posted on YouTube by totopurz


‘Syokoy’ is not about a sea creature

February 24, 2007

By Ma. Diosa Labiste
Inquirer, Feb. 24, 2007

MANILA, Philippines – “Syokoy,” a film documentary on the Petron oil spill in Guimaras produced by young filmmakers in Iloilo, gathers what journalists leave out, like stories on the disaster’s effects that are not given much space in the newspapers.

It’s not about whose craft is better, but the power of the film lies in its lingering effect.

It captured stories and the symbols of the daily acts of people who are trying to recover and find healing for their coastal communities that were devastated by the oil spill.

The film has captured more than sound bites, slices of life and atmosphere.

Syokoy won third place in the recently concluded 19th Gawad CCP para sa Pelikula at Video. It was also named the best regional entry. It was directed by Ray Defante Gibraltar and written by John Iremil Teodoro. Oscar Nava was in charge of the cinematography.

The film, which runs for more than an hour, is about the destruction and how people cope with the effects of the oil spill that took place on Aug. 11 last year when oil tanker MT Solar I, which was chartered by Petron and carried more than 2 million liters of bunker oil, sank off Guimaras province, releasing some 250,000 liters of bunker oil into the sea.

The tanker still lies at the bottom of the sea with thousands of liters of oil still inside it.

Experts can’t agree on the cost of the actual and long-term damage of the oil spill on the province’s rich marine life, fishing ground, tourist sites, health and way of life.

(More at


Guimaras oil retrieval to cost at least $6M

February 24, 2007

Abigail L. Ho
Inquirer, Feb. 22, 2007

MANILA, Philippines – Oil retrieval operations on the Sunken Solar 1 oil tanker will start by March 14, at an estimated cost of between $6 million and $12 million.

Sonsub, an Italian-based deepwater operations company, has been commissioned by the Protection and Indemnity Club (P&I) to retrieve any remaining oil from the tanker, which sank off the coast of Guimaras island in August 2006.

The cost will be shouldered entirely by P&I, the marine insurance company of Solar 1’s owner, Sunshine Maritime.

The Solar 1 is lying at a depth of 640 meters, out of reach of local divers.

(More at Inquirer)


Solar 1 fuel off-loading in Bacolod

February 24, 2007

THE fuel oil to be retrieved from the MT Solar 1 that sank off the coast of Guimaras will be offloaded by the Allied Shield vessel at the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corp. (BREDCO) port in Bacolod City before its transport to its final destination, Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela said yesterday.

The Allied Shield, a vessel to be brought in by Sonsub, an Italian firm specializing in deepwater operations, will dock at the BREDCO port that is nearer the Guimaras retrieval site than the Iloilo Port that does not have a dedicated berth for it, Coscolluela said.

The retrieved oil that will be offloaded in five tanks or at 100 tons at a time at the BREDCO port will then be loaded on an oil barge for transport to Holcin Cement in Misamis Occidental, Carlos Tan, Petron Health, Safety and Environment manager, said.

Coscolluela assured that the offloading of the tanks of retrieved oil at the BREDCO port will be a safe operation. When the Allied Shield begins its retrieval operations from Solar 1 on March 14 no ships and other vessels will be allowed within a one kilometer radius from it, Coscolluela also said, as a safety precaution.

Retrieval operations estimated to cost $6 million is expected to last 20 days, Mark Phibbs, of Sonsub ROV special projects, said at a press conference in Bacolod City yesterday.

All the risks are being anticipated, Sonsub has put in a contingency plan to address them to ensure a fail-safe operation, he said.

Contingency plans include oil spill response tugboats that will be deployed for the duration of the retrieval operations. The boats will be equipped with oil dispersants, oil skimmers, for the mechanical recovery of oil and spill booms for containment, he said.

One aircraft which has airborne dispersant capability will continuously be monitoring the area, he added.

Sonsub was contracted by the Protection and Indemnity Club, insurer of Solar 1, to retrieve any remaining oil on board the vessel that sank 9 kilometers south of Guimaras to a depth of about 2,100 meters carrying about 2,000 tons of oil owned by Petron in August last year, Phibbs said.

“We do not know how much oil remains on board the Solar 1, it could be 1,000 to only 10 tons or nothing,” Joe Nichols, deputy director of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, said.

“This is only the second time in the history that such a deep sea oil retrieval operation will be undertaken,” Phibbs said.

Sonsub retrieved 13,500 tons of crude oil without spillage from the tanker Prestige which sank in 10,000 feet of water 240 kilometers from the coast of Spain, he said.

Sonsub will be using the latest technologies, including the 80-meter long dynamic positioning vessel Allied Shield and two Remotely Operated Vehicles that will be deployed to work on the sunken vessel, he added.

The ROVs will drill two holes in each of the 10 sunken tanks containing oil on board the MT Solar 1. Water will be allowed to flow into one hole to displace any remaining oil which would flow from the second hole and a shuttle container will be used to capture the oil to be transferred on to the Allied Shield, he said.

The Allied Shield crew will be operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week to hasten the recovery of any trapped oil in Solar 1.

Phibbs said only the oil will be retrieved because the cost of salvaging Solar 1 would be prohibitive.

Coscolluela said that after the oil is retrieved from Solar 1 it will not be a threat to the marine environment.

Meanwhile, Nichols said they have compensated 12,000 fisherfolk affected by the MT Solar 1 oil spill in August last year P120 million. They have also spent $3.5 million for the clean up cost.

Tan said the threat from some sectors in Guimaras of a boycott on Petron products because of the oil spill has had no significant effect on the firm.

Coscolluela said the accusation that Petron has not adequately addressed the cleanup operations is unfair because Petron has started the work at its own expense as a moral obligation. Petron says it has so far spent P200 million for clean up operations. (CPG, Visayan Daily Star, Feb. 23, 2007)



February 22, 2007

The Philippine Star 02/22/2007

(An excerpt)

Where’s the P800-M Guimaras rehab fund?

Usually, the national government announces with flair the allocation of big amounts of assistance for rehabilitation work in case of a disaster.

Well, that is something which has miffed Guimaras Gov. JC Rahman Nava. Yesterday, Nava said the rehabilitation plan is in place but its implementation remains a big question mark.

The reason: the P800 million for the Guimaras rehabilitation fund has yet to be released. It is included in the 2007 supplemental budget of the national government.

Nava was scheduled to leave yesterday for Manila to finalize with the National Disaster Coordinating Council the internal rules and regulations for the rehabilitation program. The budget and finance departments will also send their official representatives to the meet.

Health Undersecretary Ethelyn Nieto also reportedly lamented the delay in the release of the funds, especially the P22 million intended for the medical surveillance systems to monitor the long-term effects of bunker oil on the health of affected Guimaras residents.

Nieto disclosed that P12 million will be for disease surveillance which includes the detection and response to outbreaks and the monitoring and evaluation of the operation, among others.

Gov. Nava disclosed that the local government was supposed to get P210 million; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P130 million; DSWD, P250 million; and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, P100 million. The remaining amount will be distributed to the University of the Philippines, the health department, and the Department of Science and Technology.

What all this amounts to is simple – between the announcement and the implementation lies a major gap. And too often, this becomes too wide that people tend to lose their confidence in the government’s promises.

So, I can only hope that Gov. Nava does not get it on the neck for howling for his P800 million now instead of waiting for those holding the fund to release it at their convenience.

(More at Phil. Star.)


From the Center with Rolly Espina (an excerpt)

February 21, 2007

Petron is readying preparations to siphon oil from the sunken tanker, Solar I, below the Guimaras Strait. This will start on Feb. 28.

The International Tanker Owners of Pollution Federation is now mobilizing the equipment to remove the two million liters of the ill-fated fuel lying some 650 feet below sea water.

The extraction project has a time-frame of two months, according to the ITOPF.

Three vessels will be used as platforms – Vega, Wise, and Regulus. All have a total tonnage capacity of 141 tons.

The Philippine Coast Guard has already been contracted to help in the event of need for recovery teams in the area just in case of an oil spill.

The SEAFDEC, meanwhile, also said it has already readied its fish cages and other marine reserves with the necessary protective devices.

Petron, meanwhile, claimed that its insurance firm had paid P117 million to some 17,000 Guimaras fisherfolk. It is still in the process of paying other fishermen, resort and fishpond owners.

The oil corporation claimed it had already shelled out P18 million for its own program in cleaning up the oil spill area. (Visayan Daily Star, Feb. 21, 2007)