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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid