International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPC Funds) and the government of Trinidad and Tobago will work collaboratively towards initiating the necessary processes to receive and assess claims in respect of losses arising out of the oil pollution incident in Trinidad and Tobago.

The spill occurred when a vessel towed by a tug capsized some 16 km off the coast of Tobago and lodged on a reef some 150 metres off Canoe Bay on the South-western coast of Tobago in early February 2024, spilling an unknown quantity of its 4 652 mt of persistent Bunker Fuel C cargo and polluting some 15 km of the coastline of Tobago.

The “search for the owner of the tug and barge by the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago has so far proven inconclusive, and investigations to determine the ownership of both vessels are still ongoing,” IOPC Funds said in its statement on May 10.

Following the incident, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency led the management of a response to the oil spill and the IOPC Funds secretariat sent experts to assist and provide advice in relation to clean-up operations.

In March 2024, the IOPC Funds’ deputy director and head of claims department and a claims manager conducted a fact-finding mission to the 1992 Fund Member State, where they met with officials of its Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, interacted with experts involved in the response operations, and visited the sites impacted by the pollution.

As a result, the 1992 Fund Executive Committee on April 29 authorised the director of the IOPC Funds, Gaute Sivertsen, to make payments in respect of losses arising out of the oil pollution incident in Trinidad and Tobago.

To remind, the IOPC Funds are two intergovernmental organisations (the 1992 Fund and the Supplementary Fund) which provide compensation for oil pollution damage resulting from spills of persistent oil from tankers.

The Committee’s decision, taken at its 82nd session, followed the submission of detailed reports on the incident by the IOPC Funds secretariat and the government of Trinidad and Tobago, which is a Member State of the 1992 Fund, and consensus by Member States that the 1992 Civil Liability and Fund Conventions applied to the incident.

Source: IOPC Funds.