Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 21st 2014 Contents YVONNE BABOOLAL
Some $.5 billion in crude oil and the
survival of T&T s economy are behind
Petrotrin s determination to berth a
tanker coming from Ebola-stricken west
Africa, even though it is now in a standoff
with employees who are refusing to do
it.Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali
confirmed the situation yesterday, telling
the T&T Guardian: "I know there are some
people, including Petrotrin employees,
who are refusing to work.
"But we will have to find a way to berth
the vessel. If it doesn t berth, the refinery
will have to shut down.
"Petrotrin depends on imported crude
oil to operate. If Petrotrin doesn t operate
there will be no fuel for the country."
Petrotrin workers have refused to berth
the tanker, Overseas Yellowstone, which
arrived at Pointe-a-Pierre last Friday with
$.5 billion worth of crude oil from Gabon,
Gabon is not on the list of countries
whose citizens have been banned from
entering T&T but it borders Guinea,
Cameroon and Congo.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan
announced last week that anyone coming
from Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Nigeria
would be denied entry to the country.
The highly contagious Ebola virus con-
tinues its spread in west Africa and the
rising death toll is now over 4,500. Cases
have also been reported in the US and
Hassanali said yesterday that the Health
Ministry gave a certificate of clearance to
Overseas Yellowstone last Friday but work-
ers were still refusing to berth it. Workers
have to go out in tug boats and pull the
vessel into the Pointe-a-Pierre port.
He said the tanker took the crude oil
cargo ten miles off the coast of Gabon and
the crew members did not go onshore.
Further, Hassanali noted, the crew had
been aboard the vessel for 62 days. The
Ebola virus has a 21-day incubation peri-
od.Contacted yesterday, Khan confirmed
that medical personnel from his ministry
had gone aboard the Yellowstone and
cleared it of Ebola last week.
"It s Ebola free," Khan told the T&T
"The vessel was also given a clean bill
of health based on its history, where it
"It came from west Africa but never
reached shore. Its crew members are people
from different parts of the world," he noted.
Khan said Petrotrin workers were refus-
ing to go on board the ship to offload it
but they have no reason to act in that
"The ministry and its doctors take their
jobs seriously. If they are using Ebola for
their union problems, it s the country that
will suffer," he said.
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Petrotrin boss fears $ crisis, fuel shortage...
oil tanker entry
The presence of the tanker has also thrown
workers at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate into a
state of panic.
A source claimed after the Health Ministry
cleared the tanker last Friday, six crew members
were taken off and transported to Piarco Airport.
"We don't know if these crew members were
changing shift, or what," the source said.
The source claimed that after Petrotrin workers
refused to berth the vessel, Petrotrin got Point
Lisas tug boat workers to bring six crew members
"The Government is banning people coming
from West Africa into the island on airlines but
they are being allowed to come in at the sea
ports," the source added.
A Plipdeco official yesterday denied the tanker
was berthed at this port, saying the vessel is out
at sea on its way to Pointe-a-Pierre and Point
Lisas does not service oil tankers.
Another United Kingdom-registered cargo
vessel, Ocean Discovery, was initially prevented
last week from docking at the Chaguaramas port.
The vessel stopped at two ports in Africa before
arriving in Trinidad but after Health Ministry
officials checked the crew they were allowed to
An undated photograph of the oil tanker
Overseas Yellowstone. Petrotrin workers are
refusing to allow the vessel to berth on local
shores to offload its cargo of crude oil amid
fears of contracting Ebola from its crew
because the vessel recently docked in Gabon.
Overseas Yellowstone, registered
in the Marshall Islands in the
northern Pacific, stopped at several
ports on the way to its Pointe-a-
Pierre destination, the last being
An online site showed the tanker
anchored yesterday in the Gulf of
Paria in T&T and gave its
destination as Pointe-a-Pierre.
taken off ship
ROGET: NO PROTOCOL IN PLACE
ABOUT THE SHIP
for 20TH OCTOBER, 2014
Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU)
president general Ancel Roget said yesterday
Petrotrin workers were within their rights under
the Occupational Safety and Health Act to refuse
to berth the Overseas Yellowstone, since the
company had no health protocol in place to
protect the workers and the country from Ebola.
"Petrotrin has not secured this port where a lot
of international ships berth. Also, we don't know
which personnel crew members had contact with
along their journey. Petrotrin is putting workers
and the country at risk," he said.
Roget also confirmed that crew members from
Overseas Yellowstone were taken off the ship and
expressed concern about that.
"We don't know who these people are and
where they were taken," he said.
He added that the union got information that
Petrotrin was trying to get Plipdeco workers to
berth and offload the tanker. He said the union did
not trust Petrotrin and was calling on the Health
Ministry to intervene in the matter.
"We want a committee set up to develop
protocols to protect workers," Roger said.
Also contacted on the matter yesterday,
National Security Minister Gary Griffith told the
T&T Guardian to pass on all Ebola reports to a
recently set up committee being overseen by the
National Operations Centre.
Griffith said every five minutes someone called
him to report some Ebola threat.
"Someone even called to report something
about a pair of sneakers coming from west
President Anthony Carmona has signed an
official order declaring the Ebola virus a
dangerous threat to public health. The order gives
state officials the authority to take required
action to stem the disease.
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