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Solar I oil to be recovered through gravity – gov’t press release

February 19, 2007

ILOILO CITY – There will be no suctioning or pumping of oil from the sunken oil vessel Solar I. This was the assurance given by Mr. Robin Galletti, commercial manager of SONSUP, a division of Saipem FPSO, S.P.A, the Italian firm which will undertake the recovery of oil from Solar I during a briefing conducted for members of the Solar Oil Spill Task Force, local officials of Guimaras, affected municipalities of Iloilo Province and PETRON officials. Instead, Mr. Galletti said they will use gravity by letting water go in and oil to flow out.

Brushing aside fears, that the method might lead to another oil spill, Mr. Galletti said the method has already been tried in the successful recovery in ERIKA off the French coast and in PRESTIGE, off the coast of Spain. In fact, he said, the PRESTIGE was a far bigger tanker which broke in two and they recovered a third of the oil. Galletti clarified that they are prepared for any contingency that may arise, even to the extent of having a standby plane to be used for the operation.

For the particular operation in Guimaras, SONSUP will make use of a single dynamic positioning vessel for the operations. The vessel called AME Allied Shield will provide accommodations for 52 personnel composed of ship crew, client representatives and technical staff.

A Remote Operating Vehicle will be used for the deepwater operation. It will undertake the drilling of holes with a core drill on the deck of the tanks where the oil is located.

Mobilization for the requirements for the operations will start February 28. Actual operations in Guimaras will start 14th of March and is expected to last anywhere from 20 days to one month depending on the amount of oil left in Solar I. The month of March was chosen because of the Northeast monsoon wind, which means it is blowing away from Guimaras and ideal for the operations.

On the other hand, Joe Nichols, Deputy Director of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund said they have already completed the payment of some 11,000 claimants from Guimaras. The next to be paid will be from Iloilo Province, where currently the claims are being assessed. Payment is expected to be done before the Easter break. (Philippine Information Agency, Region 6)

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