Energy Giant Slammed for Oil Spill in Thai Sea

BANGKOK (AP) — Critics on Thursday slammed Thailand's state-owned oil and gas company for its allegedly inefficient response to an oil spill that polluted a popular tourist island, as cleanup operations continued for a sixth day.

About 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of crude oil — around the amount contained in 1 1/2 tanker trucks — spilled into the Gulf of Thailand off Samet Island on Saturday morning from a leak in a pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical Plc., a subsidiary of state-owned PTT Plc.

The spill washed ashore on Samet, a small resort island that each year draws some 1 million tourists due to its pristine beaches and proximity to Bangkok, 140 kilometers (90 miles) to the northwest.

Opposition lawmaker Sathit Pitutecha said Thursday that the operator had failed to plan for such a problem despite previous leaks.

"This is a failure to solve a problem by a company that earns hundreds of billions of baht (billions of dollars) every year, using the country's natural resources," he said during a parliamentary session. "I wouldn't criticize if this was the first time, but it's the fourth time already. Now the people of Rayong (province) have to bear the burden of risk from the industrial sector."

Authorities said Thursday that the oil that blackened the waters off the island had been eliminated, but that some slicks remained onshore.

"We've worked day and night to clean up the bay," PTTGC President Boworn Vongsinudom said from Rayong. "It was supposed to be finished, as we aimed, on the third day, but more oil came in from another spot, so we had to take care of it, too."


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