Tides move oil spill away from Tobago to the Caribbean, cleanup progresses

By Curtis Williams and Marianna Parraga

PORT OF SPAIN, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A week after an oil spill was first spotted near Tobago's shore, portions of the stain are moving in opposite directions into the Caribbean Sea, the island's emergency management agency (TEMA) said on Wednesday.

First responders and volunteers have been trying to contain the 12-kilometer (7.46 miles) spill, which occurred when a vessel that had capsized made contact with a reef, to avoid impacting a nearby cruise ship port, Trinidad and Tobago's government has said. But the leak has not been plugged and the owner of the ship has not been identified.

Satellite images and models suggest that waves might be taking some of the spill into the Caribbean Sea past northern Venezuela, increasing the risk that the oil impacts other beaches in Trinidad and Tobago that have coral reefs, TEMA's director Allan Stewart told Reuters.

"The satellite showed that some of it was moving into the Caribbean Sea, as well as some of the modeling," Stewart said, adding that an upcoming flight by Trinidad's Air Guard is expected to confirm the finding.

Photographs posted by TEMA on Tuesday showed progress on cleaning up Tobago's beaches. Separately, the agency and a surveillance report by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week showed several stains reaching the Caribbean Sea.

Approximately one third of the 15 kilometers of shoreline on Tobago's Atlantic Ocean has been cleaned and the spill is increasingly under control, Stewart said.

BP PLC BP.L and Shell PLC SHEL.L are providing technical assistance and equipment, Stewart added.

(Reporting by Curtis Williams in Port of Spain and Marianna Parraga in Houston; Editing by Josie Kao)

((marianna.parraga@thomsonreuters.com; +1 713 371 7559; Reuters Messaging: @mariannaparraga))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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