AC Energy Philippines of the Ayala Group said the clean-up of the oil spill from Power Barge 102 in Barrio Obrero, Iloilo City is expected to be completed in the next 10 to 15 days.
“The company has engaged Harbor Star, a leading maritime services provider, to finish the clean-up of both the waters and the coastline, beginning with the inlet areas, followed by the coast, and then any offshore areas to recover and safely disperse any remaining oil residue,” AC Energy Philippines said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange.
It said PB 102 discharged fuel oil at 3 p.m. on July 3.
“The root cause is yet to be determined, but initial findings reveal that the discharge is attributable to ignition of fuel oil in storage which ruptured the barge’s fuel tank,” AC Energy Philippines said.
The company said it would also engage third-party experts to determine the cause of the explosion to avoid similar situations in the future.
Some 120 households in the neighboring area were relocated to Barangay Obrero Elementary School in coordination with local government officials, while their surroundings are undergoing clean-up and as protection against fumes brought by the prevailing winds.
The company said it continued to provide the affected families with food, healthcare, PPEs and other necessities, and was working on further relocation to other nearby schools to observe social distancing.
AC Energy Philippines said it immediately activated containment protocols through containment booms but due to strong ocean waves, some of the fuel oil escaped the confinement area.
The leakage was contained at around 10 p.m. on July 3 with the rapid deployment of more than 170 combined personnel of the company and the Philippine Coast Guard with 14 boats and multilayered spill booms from the AC Energy Philippines, the Coast Guard, Petron Corp. and Global Business Power Corp.
“After containment, the company and the Coast Guard immediately started recovery of the remaining floating residue. Recovery capacity was increased with additional oil skimming equipment from Shell Philippines the following morning and another from the Company’s Power Barge 103 the next day,” it said.
AC Energy Philippines also owns PB 103 which is moored in Mactan, Cebu.
The Risk Reduction and Management Council VI, with representatives from the PCG and other concerned government agencies in Iloilo City, was convened to discuss the ongoing response operations and to activate a management team to focus on the incident.
The company said it continued to coordinate with the Coast Guard, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, the officials of the local government of Iloilo and the host community who are helping in the containment efforts.
“We are committed to exert all available means to clean-up any remaining residue as soon as possible and support the affected communities,” AC Energy Philippines said.
The company said it was able to take control of the barges after it acquired the assets of Phinma Energy Corp.
“It’s presently under investigation to determine the cause. Meantime priority is being given to contain the oil spill to minimize if not prevent damage to environment,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said when asked about the oil spill.