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Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young responds to a question in Parliament yesterday.

The LMCS company has been taken off all work on the pipelines at Paria Fuel Trading Company for the time being and safety orientations will be redone for all employee contractors among other steps.

Energy Minister Stuart Young indicated this in Parliament yesterday in reply to questions from United National Congress MP David Lee on the diving tragedy that occurred last Friday.

Young was asked about steps taken by Paria to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

Four LMCS divers—Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Yusuff Henry and Rishi Nagassar—who were doing maintenance work on a Paria pipeline, died. This followed an incident that caused them to be sucked into the pipeline. Their bodies were recovered on Monday and Thursday. A fifth diver, Christopher Boodram, was rescued.

Young expressed deep sadness and extended condolences to the family members, colleagues and friends of the divers, whom he said, “…tragically lost their life resulting from an accident that occurred when they were working for their employer LMCS at Paria’s facilities.”

On Lee’s query, Young said all major project and non-routine operations have been suspended and operations are limited to routine maintenance and operations.

As was happening before, he added, “…Before restarting any project or non-routine work, an external independent review will be done on all risk assessments methods, statements, hazard analysis prior to the authorisation of work permits internally at Paria—including when dealing with sub-contractors.

“A meeting with all contractor employees will be held and safety orientations will be redone for all employee contractors. Additionally, LMCS has been taken off of all work on the pipelines at Paria for the time being.”

UNC’s Rudy Indarsingh asked if pipeline work by LMCS was suspended, why a similar decision wasn’t made for Paria management officials.

Young said it wasn’t the ministry or anyone at Energy who had taken any of those decisions on Paria operations and how the company was treating with their sub-contractors.

“Also, I’m not aware of what decisions may be under consideration by the board, management at Paria. What I’m aware of is that nothing has been sent to me with respect to the removal of any officers. Not that needs to be sent to the ministry,” Young said.

Asked what led to the divers’ deaths, Young said Government won’t speculate or assume what happened.

“What we’ve done is appoint a five-man panel which will be chaired by Mr Shiv Sharma and have the appropriate experts—two of whom have already been named—with representatives of BP and Shell.

“It’s prudent to await the outcome of that investigation. There’s nothing further that can be said at this stage or will be said by Government.”

Traumatologist for divers’ families

United National Congress’ Roodal Moonilal has asked if it was not appropriate to have impartial independent experts, as opposed to people connected to multi-national oil companies who routinely work with Government involved in the probe into the Paria diving tragedy.

However, Energy Minister Stuart Young said the team involves professional experts, independent of Government and of all operations that may have led to the accident.

“There’s no concern with the panel’s composition and any lack of independence or expertise on their parts,” Young said.

On Paria’s assistance to the divers’ families, Young said Paria’s initial response was to ensure the families received or had available, appropriate counselling services

“A traumatologist, Haniff Benjamin, of the Centre For Human Development and PEAPSL have been engaged to provide counselling services,” he said.

This offer was initially made on February 26 and continues to be available if the families wish to use the services. It was initially offered for one year and will be extended as required.

“Paria continues to communicate with the families daily to determine how it can further support them during this time,” Young said.

However, he couldn’t say if families took up the offer. Young wished surviving diver Christopher Boodram a speedy recovery.