Controversy has recently been aroused in the media about the environmental risk of the FSO Nabarima ship anchored in the Gulf of Paria, which stores 1.3 million barrels of oil and is controlled by the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and the Italian Eni. Environmentalists and Fishermen and Friends of Sea (FFOS) have been raising alarms for months about the risk of environmental contamination due to the list of the ship, information provided by the PDVSA unions to FFOS. On October 16, representatives of FFOS were in charge of visiting the FSO Nabarima and shared their concern for social networks (YouTube) bringing international attention.
The FSO Nabarima has been inactive since the beginning of 2019 due to the United States sanctions against PDVSA as part of the Trump Administration’s pressure campaign on the Venezuelan government under President Nicolás Maduro.
Government of Venezuela
A Reuters report on Friday, citing an anonymous Venezuelan official with knowledge of the matter, said the listing was due to repair work being carried out on the vessel’s valves. Similarly, the Miami Herald reported that the Venezuelan ambassador in Trinidad later refuted the claim and reported on October 19 that the ship was now upright.
FullAvanteNews cannot independently verify the images, the condition of the vessel, or whether or not the listing was the result of valve repair work onboard the facility.
Government of Trinidad and Tobago
According to the Miami Herald, the government of Trinidad and Tobago said Thursday that a floating oil storage vessel with nearly 55 million gallons of Venezuelan crude oil floating off its coast is taking no water and showing no signs of sinking and creating an environmental disaster off the coast of South America.
Trinidad’s Energy Minister Franklin Khan also confirmed press reports that Venezuela had begun transferring crude onboard the FSO Nabarima to a tanker via barge. Khan said that while the process of emptying the 1.3 million barrels of oil from the Nabarima is safe, they are concerned about the excessive amount of time – roughly 35 days – it will take and plan to ask Venezuela to use a larger ship.
“There was absolutely no inclination of the vessel that was recognized and the ship was completely horizontal,” Khan said during a press conference on the findings of a team of experts from Trinidad and Tobago who surveyed the Nabarima. “In general, the maintenance of the boat satisfied the satisfaction of the team.”
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea
The US embassy in Port of Spain has joined environmentalists and FFOS in demanding that Trinidadian officials increase pressure on Venezuela to gain access to the ship. US officials also said that sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Venezuela and leader Nicolás Maduro did not prevent the problem from being addressed.
FFOS has asked CARICOM, a coalition of Caribbean countries, to hold an emergency meeting to determine a joint response to the looming environmental crisis. This takes into account that if the risk of the spill materializes, marine ecosystems, coastal communities, tourism, and a number of organisms and activities dependent on the Caribbean Sea would be affected.
“Rather than taking a reactive approach, take a proactive approach,” said Premchand of FFOS.
FFOS seeks to adopt a proactive rather than a reactive approach to contain the potential danger remains as long as the FSO Nabarima contains oil in the Gulf of Paria.