Concerns are growing that a Venezuelan oil tanker, Nabarima, is carrying millions of gallons of oil which could spill its load into the ocean between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, causing an ecological disaster and a major threat to tourism hotspots such as Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Nabarima is carrying up to 1.3 million barrels of oil which threatens the Southern Caribbean. A state of environmental emergency is being called by the fishermen in Trinidad and Tobago regarding the oil tanker.
The Nabarima which is jointly owned by the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Eni, the Italian oil giant, is said to be 264 meters in length and has a capacity of 1.4 million barrels. The spill would be five times worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989, which was the worst in history until the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon, reported Forbes.
The tilting was first discovered in July and the situation has progressively gotten worst. Trinidadian environmental group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea has called for a state of environmental emergency. The group visited the ship by boat on Friday and posted a video showing Nabarima tilting and suspended by anchor chains.
Gary Aboud, the group’s corporate secretary, who visited the ship with his group posted a video showing the tilting oil tanker. Aboud said in the video: “If something goes on, if we have bad weather, there are a number of circumstances that could causes the vessel to flood, and then we have no recourse.” The group consists of over 50,000 fisher folks in Trinidad and Tobago.
High criticisms are circulating about the Government of Trinidad & Tobago and the international community’s slow response in handling the situation which has been growing over the last three months. Officials have been criticized for not taking sufficient action.
The Venezuela oil tanker has been caught up in US sanctions since disputed elections questioned the legitimacy of the Venezuelan President.
Several reports from the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian had been calling for action in what could be a massive environmental catastrophe.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Minister, Franklin Khan, spoke to the Guardian on September 4. The Guardian reported that “T&T Energy Minister Franklin Khan yesterday confirmed Government is seeking the independent verification. He noted that initial reports from Venezuelan authorities were that the vessel was upright and in stable condition.”
Khan stated that, “The Energy Ministry through the Venezuelan Embassy has offered any assistance, technical or logistical to the Government of Venezuela that it may require. Also, the Minister of Energy is in contact with his Venezuelan counterpart for further updates as they become available.” The [Trinidad and Tobago] Energy Ministry through the Venezuelan Embassy has offered any assistance, technical or logistical to the Government of Venezuela that it may require. Also, the Minister of Energy is in contact with his Venezuelan counterpart for further updates as they become available.”
According to Forbes, posts were “picked up by the New York Times NYT +2.2% who reported on September 7that the tanker had taken on 10 feet of water that had caused the tilt. At that time in early September, the Nabarima had a 5 degree tilt, and had sunken 14.5 meters at the waterline, with one side clearly visible out of the water – a sign of excess weight.
Six weeks later, Gary Aboud, whose footage this weekend was taken next to the tanker, showed that the angle of listing had increased to what he estimated was 25 degrees.”
Concerns about a massive oil spill has been heightened during the hurricane season which ends on November 30.
An oil spill from the Nabarima would threaten the entire Southern Caribbean for many years.