Tug and Barge Identified as Culprits in Tobago Oil Spill

Investigation Reveals Ownership Links and Urges Accountability for Environmental Disaster


The enigma surrounding the significant oil spill off the shores of Tobago last week has been partially elucidated. Through an analysis conducted by Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative journalism group, subsequently corroborated by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, it has been ascertained that an articulated tug and barge were the culprits behind the environmental catastrophe. Nevertheless, the precise whereabouts and ownership details of the tug remain elusive.

In the early hours of February 7, local maritime authorities detected a substantial oil slick emanating from a capsized vessel off the western coast of Tobago. Swiftly, the slick made landfall along the southwest shoreline of the Caribbean island, prompting the nation’s prime minister to declare the incident a national emergency, with thousands of volunteers mobilized for the ensuing cleanup operations.

The capsized vessel is currently lodged on a reef, with reports from divers indicating extensive debris on the seabed, including the identification of a towing cable.

Upon thorough examination of available evidence, the coast guard confirmed yesterday that the vessel in question was an unpowered fuel barge being towed to Guyana by a Tanzanian-registered tug, named Solo Creed, built in 1976. According to Bellingcat, the 48-year-old barge bears the name Gulfstream. Both the tug and the barge are under the ownership of Panamanian interests and have a documented history of transporting Venezuelan oil.

Farley Augustine, the chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, conveyed to reporters yesterday, “This situation should not result in a paradise lost, certainly not for Tobago. But we need those responsible to come clean, and we need those responsible to know that they have to pay for this mess, that they are culpable as part of this mess.”

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