News / Asia

    Thai Offshore Oil Spill Prompts Warning from Environmentalists, Engineers

    Thai soldiers wearing biohazard suits take part as cleaning operations continue at Ao Prao Beach on Koh Samet, Rayong, July 31, 2013.
    Thai soldiers wearing biohazard suits take part as cleaning operations continue at Ao Prao Beach on Koh Samet, Rayong, July 31, 2013.
    Ron Corben
    Environmentalists and engineers say the Thai government needs to improve the safety of the country's offshore oil industry after a rig in the Gulf of Thailand released tens of thousands of liters of oil that has since washed up on popular beaches. As The spill has triggered wider concerns as foreign and local companies look to step up investments in offshore oil in the region.
     
    Thailand is still weighing the cost five days after after 50,000 liters of oil leaked into the Gulf of Thailand while being transferred from an offshore platform some 20 kilometers out to sea.
     
    The eight kilometer long spill has already reached the resort island of Koh Samet and is moving towards the Thai mainland near Rayong province.

    Thailand’s Marine Department has lodged a police complaint against the pipeline operator while Thai officials called for efforts to clean up the slick, with experts called in from Singapore to assist.

    Pipeline operator PTT Global Chemical said the leak was quickly closed off and efforts are now focused on the cleanup. The operator is a subsidiary of Thailand’s largest fossil fuel group, the state-linked PTT, with global assets of over $45 billion.

    Although PTT has assured resort operators on Koh Samet the slick will be cleaned up within days, Thailand's tourism and fisheries industries are still calculating the damage. The cost to the tourism industry along has been estimated at $70 million.

    But Sutichai Kumworachai, an analyst with Kim Eng Securities, said it may take weeks before the full cost is known and he expects the government to now toughen regulations governing the oil industry. “What I expect is that in the future the regulation for this matter might be more strict than what we have right now, but I believe the operator or oil refiner would be OK to do so [comply],” Eng noted.

    Sutichai said companies may be required to set aside emergency funds for such incidents and pay close attention to the longer term environmental impact.

    Environmental group, Greenpeace South East Asia program manager, Ply Pirom, is skeptical of PTT claims that the oil clean-up will be quick and is calling for more details on the degree of damage to the environment. “From what happened we can say that this is a good example and alarming to the Thai Government that we are not ready for such an incident.   Especially if you look at PTT Company which is one of the leading companies in Thailand and globally also, they are seen to not be really well-prepared for such an incident,” said Pirom.

    Greenpeace has called on the Thai government to review its energy policy and dependence on fossil fuels and end oil drilling and exploration in the Gulf of Thailand.

    Environmental Engineering Association of Thailand (EEAT) president Prasert Tapaneeyangkul, said oil companies need to address procedural shortcomings and limit human errors. “Engineering mitigation measures are very important, they have to be very seriously abided by otherwise this (crisis) will occur again and again. Most of the time it’s not from the engineering design but by human error so that is one of the most important things that this human error first of all must be eliminated,” he stated.

    In 2009, an oil spill and gas leak by a PTT subsidiary in the Montara oil field in the Timor Sea took 74 days to plug. It is considered one of Australia’s worst oil disasters.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora