Puma Energy is committed to making the places where we operate better for the communities that live there. This is why we always invest in the necessary training, technology and infrastructure to ensure our facilities operate in line with the highest safety standards. We know how important trust is to our success: communities that live near our facilities need to be safe in the knowledge that we take corporate citizenship seriously.

Rebuilding in Puerto Rico

Winning the trust of communities is not always easy. And in some cases we have to work especially hard to build trust, especially where a community has suffered due to historical underinvestment in infrastructure.

Righting wrongs

One such facility was the Bayamón terminal in Puerto Rico.

In 2009 an oil terminal operated by Caribbean Petroleum Corporation (Capeco) exploded before bursting into flames and emitting large plumes of toxic smoke into the atmosphere.

The initial explosion destroyed eleven storage tanks at the facility, but rapidly spread to other nearby tanks. The tanks contained gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel generating an explosion that measured the equivalent of a 2.8-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.

Families living near the facility were evacuated and 130 firefighters battled for two days to extinguish the blaze.  Incredibly no one was killed but some were treated for respiratory illnesses and the explosion inflicted huge damage on the local community. In the wake of the disaster, lawsuits were filed against Capeco and soon it was filing for bankruptcy.

A change for the better

In December 2010, Puma Energy won the rights to acquire the facilities and one of our first priorities was to show those in the community that we could change the things for the better. In the aftermath of the accident, many in the community were concerned about the risks of any similar accidents. So one of our first tasks was to demonstrate how seriously we take our safety standards by entering into voluntary agreements to resolve environmental concerns and to clarify the company’s future environmental responsibilities.

As part of our commitments to refurbish the Bayamón terminal, we signed four agreements on the remediation programme with the US Environmental Protection Agency and agreed to address environmental issues and upgrade underground storage tanks systems at 147 gas stations across the island. Our service stations are now cleaner and safer, benefitting both customers and local retailers in the process.

Committed to investment

We have since safely demolished the refinery, which was an environmental threat because of residual traces of materials such as asbestos and lead and we are also in the process of safely disposing of contaminated soil in the area.  

As well as overhauling the facilities, we have looked to invest in local projects that support our overall CSR objectives. These include partnerships with local environmental organisations and investment in equipment to help restore and improve wetland areas, as well as investment in training for educational programmes at local schools that ensure over 80 per cent of high school fourth year students learn a trade.

We believe we have every right to feel proud of our efforts in Puerto Rico. We have shown how the right commitments combined with the right investment can transform people’s lives for the better.