Equinor said yesterday that a new study revealed that roughly 55,000 barrels of oil were spilled at its Grand Bahama facility during Hurricane Dorian instead of the initial 119,000 barrels estimated.
“After additional surveys by Equinor and two external companies, the updated estimated volume for the oil spill at the South Riding Point terminal after the impact of Hurricane Dorian is 55,000 barrels – less than half the initial volume estimate of 119,000 barrels,” Equinor said in a statement.
It added, “The South Riding Point terminal stored a total of 1,870 million barrels of oil when Hurricane Dorian struck.
“The new surveys confirm that 1,815 million barrels of oil are still intact in the tanks at the terminal. That means 55,000 barrels is the updated volume estimate for the spill. Most of the spilled volumes were within or near the terminal area.”
Equinor said the updated estimate was made by itself and two surveyor companies, AmSpec and Oil Inspections, following the transfer of oil from damaged tanks to secure tanks last week.
It said more than 50,000 barrels of oil have already been recovered.
“The calculation of oil spilled versus oil recovered will likely never fully match as the collected oil also will contain water,” Equinor said.
The company added, “Equinor is committed to cleaning up and the recovery work has expanded to the forest areas north-east of the terminal.”
Dorian – the strongest storm on record to hit The Bahamas – blew the roofs off several of Equinor’s tanks, distributing oil across the acreage of the property and into the neighboring forest.
Equinor said more than 350 responders from 14 countries, including more than 100 responders from The Bahamas, are working on “recovery operations”.
The company said there have been “no work-related incidents”.
It noted that it has “specially trained teams” carrying out clean-up efforts in “the most impacted part of the forest” northeast of the terminal.
However, some environmentalists have expressed concern with responders handling the oil while dressed in improper gear.
Equinor said yesterday that “the teams are equipped with necessary protection and safety equipment”.
Last week, an environmental consortium claimed that traces of heavy-grade fuel oil were found in wetlands near the oil facility.
Yesterday, Equinor said it has started to execute a groundwater monitoring plan of the impacted area.
It said it was awaiting approval from the government.
“Final planning of well placements based on plume extension and hydrological understanding is ongoing,” Equinor said.
“Suppliers and equipment for drilling the wells are currently being mobilized. Equinor will establish a long-term monitoring plan of groundwater and for the affected forest areas to be submitted to Bahamian authorities.”
It added, “Equinor will continue to monitor all work areas for hazardous gases. So far, air monitoring results have been favorable, with no actionable levels of hazardous gases detected.”