Capsized barge stops spilling oil off Tobago

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The oil spill from a capsized barge near the Caribbean island of Tobago has stopped.

Trinidad and Tobago’s government said it is working to recover the sunken vessel after the spill that lasted for a month and spread hundreds of kilometres west across the Caribbean.

The nation’s prime minister, Keith Rowley, said earlier this week the government continues to search for pertinent information that will identify the owners of the Solo Creed tug and Gulfstream barge involved in the February 7 oil spill.

“To date, whilst there have been documents and information that indicate connections with the vessel, the confirmation of ownership has so far not been had to the satisfaction of the government,” Rowley said. 

A joint investigation carried out earlier this month by Bellingcat and the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian laid the finger of blame on a Panama-registered company called Melaj Offshore.

According to Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative journalism group, and ship registration documents provided by the Zanzibar Maritime Authority, the listed owner of the Tanzania-registered, 1976-built tug Solo Creed which accompanied the Gulfstream barge during its disastrous journey was Melissa Rona Gonzalez, an official of Melaj Offshore Corporation.

The authority confirmed that the period of registration for the tug includes the start of the journey on December 30, 2023, until it abandoned the Gulfstream barge on or around February 6. The registration period expired on February 29.

The Panamanian corporate registry shows that Gonzalez is an officer of Melaj Offshore and that the power of attorney for the firm belongs to her husband, Augustine Jackson.

The tug and the barge have a history of towing Venezuelan oil. The barge’s final, fateful voyage saw it take some 35,000 barrels of oil on a voyage that was meant to end in Guyana, but along the way, the barge ran into difficulties.

After the 48-year-old barge capsized off the coast of Tobago, the oil slick spread hundreds of kilometres west and reached the east coast of the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire and later Aruba and Grenada.

Source: Splash247

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