A recent liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering operation carried out within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) at Gibraltar has become the subject of a local political debate.
The Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSD) on Wednesday (4 September) claimed, “an apparent shortcut has been taken to circumvent normal safety requirements in an operation as full of risk as LNG bunkering.”
The Government of Gibraltar, in its reply, stated the following:
The GSD’s Trevor Hammond once again displays his ignorance in his false suggestion that Government placed commercial gain over safety in allowing the recent LNG bunkering operation in the bay. In taking the decision to allow this operation to proceed, the Government was absolutely satisfied that it was both appropriate and safe to do so.
The bunkering was effected by one of the world’s leading suppliers of LNG with many years of experience in this area. The Captain of the Port requested a method statement and risk assessment both of which were provided and assessed by him as being satisfactory. A meeting took place between the Captain of the Port, his Deputy, senior port officers, the bunkering superintendent, the pilots and representatives from both vessels. As a result, the Captain of the Port concluded and recommended to Government that he had no safety concerns and that he was content for the bunkering operation to proceed.
Bunkering, both conventional and LNG, clearly has commercial advantages for Gibraltar both from an economic and employment perspective. However, at no time has the Government or will the Government ever place commercial gain ahead of safety considerations. Ultimately, it is for the Captain of the Port to assess and give the green light to any particular operation within BGTW. It is, frankly, scandalous for the GSD’s Mr Hammond to suggest that the Captain of the Port or his officers at the Port Authority would ever compromise safety as he is clearly suggesting in his press release.
Mr Hammond’s irresponsible scaremongering over the LNG terminal at the North Mole turned out to be baseless illusions by him. He is now attempting to do the same in respect of LNG bunkering. In doing so, he is casting unwarranted and unjustified aspersions over the integrity and professionalism of officers at the Port Authority.
It is clear that there is no limit to the undignified levels which the GSD will stoop to for political gain. The public has seen through the GSD’s tactics in the past and will no doubt do so again in the ballot which Gibraltar will shortly face.
Photo credit: Gibraltar Port Authority
Published: 9 September, 2019
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