Investigation exposes tangled web of responsibility in Tobago Oil Spill

In this photo taken on December 14, 2023, by David Stanley, the sunken barge named Gulfstream is said to be visible in the port of Colón, Panama.

SCARBOROGH, TOBAGO- The ongoing oil spill off the Tobago coast, which has escalated into a regional environmental crisis, has brought to light concerning details regarding the ownership and condition of the vessels involved. 

Documents uncovered by Bellingcat and the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, validated by the Zanzibar Maritime Authority, reveal that the tugboat towing the barge responsible for the spill belonged to a director of Panamanian companies with ties to oil transportation from Venezuela. 

Open-source investigations also raise doubts about the seaworthiness of the capsized barge, which had a history of water leaks and required pumping services to prevent sinking prior to its final voyage.

Furthermore, there are discrepancies in the ownership and registration documents of the vessels, indicating potential attempts to obfuscate responsibility for the spill. Despite requests from Trinidad and Tobago authorities for the vessel owner to come forward, no party has been publicly identified.

The involvement of various companies and individuals with questionable histories, including past legal disputes and allegations of misconduct, adds complexity to the situation. Augustine Jackson, a key figure in the ownership structure, has been linked to previous incidents and controversies in Guyana and Venezuela.

The response from authorities and involved parties has been disjointed, with conflicting statements and lack of transparency exacerbating public concerns. Efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the spill are hindered by the intricate web of corporate entities and individuals involved, highlighting the challenges in addressing environmental disasters in a maritime context.

Regulations needed

In conclusion, the oil spill off the Tobago coast underscores the need for robust regulations, transparency, and accountability in maritime operations to prevent and effectively respond to environmental crises. 

It also emphasizes the importance of independent investigative journalism, such as that conducted by Bellingcat, in uncovering the truth behind complex incidents with far-reaching consequences. The full article from Belleningrad can be found here:

Deel dit artikel