By Tabora Bojang
Gam-Petroleum will pay an estimated D3 million reimbursement to the owner of the heavy fuel that spilled at its storage site in Mandinaring.
A pipe leak spewed a record number of tonnes of oil into the river during an overnight oil discharge by FT Sturla on May 28th 2022.
Appearing before National Assembly members Monday, Gam-Petroleum managing director, Yero Jallow who was summoned to clarify the circumstances resulting in the spillage, told deputies that 73 tonnes was spilled during the discharge, attributed to a cracked pipeline.
Asked how much of a financial loss the corporation stands to incur as a result of the onshore spillage, Jallow said: “I don’t know the price as at the time of the discharge but as of yesterday [Monday], I established the price is around $810 per ton and the loss is 73 tonnes. So, multiplying that will indicate how much we should pay and that is going to be borne by Gam-Petroleum because the oil belongs to somebody.”
Going by the current exchange rate, $810 multiplied by 73 totals $59,130, which will spur an estimated D3 million.
According to the MD, the spilled oil was quantified based on the total amount in the ship and how much was received.
Nominated NAM, Kebba Lang Fofana asked the MD to explain whether these figures were independently verified.
MD Jallow replied that the verification was conducted by a Senegalese company, SGS which was assigned by Suso Oil, the owner, to conduct the exercise.
“It was verified by SGS. In fact, they are the ones that gave the figure. SGS is a verification company based in Senegal but they have representatives in The Gambia and some of the operators use them for verification and in this case, they were assigned by Suso Oil who is the recipient (owner) to verify for them,” he disclosed.
But Honourable Fofana insisted that Suso Oil assigning SGS to verify may not entirely be accurate without another independent verifier assigned by Gam-Petroleum that will serve its interest.
MD Jallow averred: “This oil belongs to somebody, so they need an independent verifier before they can trust what we provided. Gam-Petroleum is an institution, we have qualified personnel who verified and these figures were mutually agreed. It is not just SGS to come and determine the spillage. The operations team was there. We have our team, so we don’t need an independent verifier to come and verify for us.”
Further asked if the internal audit was part of the verification, the MD said that the matter was carried out by Gam-Petroleum’s operations department and SGS, who were the representatives of the owner.
He also explained that the spillage would have had far reaching consequences had it commenced at the beginning of the discharge.
“We would have lost everything if the spillage happened at the start of the discharge,” he said.
Nianija lawmaker, Honourable Amadou Camara said the space leaked in the pipe and the amount of oil reported to have spilled cast doubts and sought clarity from the Gam-Petroleum officials.
One of the technicians responded that even though the leaked hole was about 1cm, the vessel was pumping with pressure at about 6.7 bars which exacerbated the spillage due to the discharge.
Also addressing the session, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Environment, Momodou Mbaye Jabang, warned that the uncontrolled passage of tankers in public spaces within the depot and its surroundings is a recipe for disaster.
“The Gambia is doing a lot of fuel reexport to Mali and when you go there [depot in Mandinaring], as you’re approaching Lamin, you see more than 200 tanker trucks all filled with fuel. These are signals out there that we must put our house in order, otherwise this is a recipe for disaster. We have seen the disasters that occurred in other countries like Ghana,” PS Jabang warned.