A convoy of eight large heavy duty trucks transporting oil rigs could be seen going in a southerly direction early this morning. The large trucks, which came from across the Mexican border, were headed enroute to the Temash 2 drill site near Sunday Wood Village in the Toledo District where oil drilling is to be done. Sometime around 7 am, several Conejo village residents stood gawking as the heavy machines pushed their way through the village in the Toledo District.
Reporter: “Did they tell you this truck was coming through your village?”
Female Resident: “No, I’m just surprised.”
Reporter: “[Do] you think it’s a good thing you think it’s a bad thing?”
Female Resident: “I hope it’s a good thing”.
Reporter: “You hope it’s a good thing. Did they tell you that these trucks were coming through today?”
Female Resident: “No.”
Reporter: “So [do] you think the people from Coneho are in support of the oil company?”
Female Resident: “I hope so.”
But according to Dr. Mike Tewes, the company’s health, safety and environment manager, US Capital made proper consultations with the leaders of the Toledo Alcalde Association of Leadership (TAA) who were informed at all times of the activities of the company.
“Yesterday we met with the Toledo Alcalde Association Leadership to discuss their concerns, the ones raised by the Alcaldes, and we gave them a tour of the sight, and described all of our environmental mitigation efforts which the company has put in place to ensure that no environmental damage occurs at that location. As well, we reached an agreement with the Alcaldes, to keep them updated on the programs being made at the sight, so that they can be kept abreast on all the activities. At the same time we addressed the issue of safety at the worksite, and the need of proper authorization to enter the site.”
One big issue that was of concern to many residents was the availability of jobs at the drill sight for the typical unskilled worker.
Dr. Mike Tewes
“The company has a policy. It’s also a policy of providing as much jobs as possible to the local community. What we do is we go to each community, and we get together a list of all eligible workers in that community. We collect their Social Security numbers, their photographs, their ages, their legal status in the community. They must be Belizean and the must be legally able to work. Once that list is assembled, then we consult with the village leaders, the Alcalde and the chairman to ensure that in truth these people do live in that community.”
According to Dr. Tewes, residents from all 7 communities in the area will be given a chance to work for them on a rotation bases. However Dr. Tewes conceded that due the delicate nature of the work most of the jobs available require skilled, specialized personnel.
Dr. Mike Tewes
“In this exploratory phase, unfortunately, it’s not very labor intensive for unskilled labor. These drills are high tech equipment and they come with their own skilled labor that are very specialized jobs. They will be moving pipes, assembling pipes, and what we try and do is train as many workers as we can on working on drills. You know in Belize drilling, we only have BNE who has established a production trade of petroleum exploration. They have trained a lot of people. We expect to train a lot as well, but at this phase were looking at mostly skilled labor, people who really work on the rig and know what they’re doing.”
The 8 trucks that came in on Friday are only the first of 52 trucks. According to Dr. Tewed, oil explorations on the outskirts of Sunday Wood Village are scheduled to begin on the 15th of August.