Ayala firm to tap 3rd party in probe of Iloilo power barge explosion

Ayala-led AC Energy Inc will be tapping third party experts to “determine the cause of the explosion” of its Power Barge 102, a facility that is partly serving the electricity requirements of Iloilo City; but the incident had in turn caused menacing oil spill in the area.

The company said the portended outcome of the investigation shall also serve as a precaution “to avoid similar situations in the future.”

Power Barge 102 is one of the oil-fired power facilities that was privatized by state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and acquired by Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corporation in 2015; and was subsequently transferred to the Ayala group when it bought the energy assets of the Del Rosario-owned company.

As culled from AC Energy’s disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Monday (July 6), it indicated that “the root cause (of the explosion) is yet to be determined,” although it specified that initial findings reveal that the discharge causing the oil spill was “attributable to ignition of fuel oil in storage which ruptured the barge’s fuel tank.”

AC Energy noted that on Friday (July 3), when the incident happened, it already activated containment protocols – including the deployment of containment booms, “but due to strong ocean waves, some of the fuel escaped the confinement area.”

With the help of various entities, including the Philippine Coast Guard, Petron Corporation and Global Business Power Corporation, the leakage was contained at 10:00pm on that same day. Nevertheless, the spill still affected wider stretch of the water, hence, the longer time needed for the clean-up process.

The Ayala company said it engaged leading maritime service provider Harbor Star “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.”

The firm emphasized that the painstaking clean-up process in the areas affected by the oil spill may take at least 10 to 15 days.

Relative to the incident, AC Energy similarly noted that about 120 households within the neighboring area have been relocated to the Barangay Obrero Elementary School – and that was done in coordination with the local government officials. And that arrangement will stay while their surroundings are undergoing clean-up.

“The company continues to provide these families with food, health care, personal protective equipment and other necessities and is working on further relocation to other nearby schools to observe social distancing,” AC Energy said.
The company also sounded off commitment to “exert all means to clean up the oil spill as soon as possible and support the affected communities.”