An environmental group is worried that an idle Venezuelan-flagged vessel in the Gulf of Paria risks an oil spill of 55 million gallons.
According to reports, the FSO Nabarima was abandoned off the northern coast of the country more than 20 months ago. This happened after Washington sanctioned the company that owns it – Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
It is now floating between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. It has more than 1 million barrels of crude oil onboard – leading to oil spill fears.
Photos appear to show the vessel sinking, leading Environmental group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea and the U.S Embassy to warn that an oil spill would be disastrous.
Gary Aboud is corporate secretary for Fishermen and Friends of the Sea. He told Reuters: “If this thing flips we will all pay the consequences for decades to come. This should be red alert.”
He urged the government of Trinidad and Tobago to ‘wake up and do something’ to avoid a disaster for the environment.
The country’s U.S Embassy added: “We strongly support immediate actions to bring the Nabarima up to international safety standards and avoid possible environmental harm. [This] could negatively impact not only the Venezuelan people but also those in nearby countries.
According to reports, PDVSA has not yet commented on images which appear to show the ship sinking.
PDVSA gave its last update in September and it said the Nabarima was in ‘satisfactory’ condition.
Last week the government of Trinidad and Tobago said the vessel is not showing signs of sinking. In addition, said Trinidad energy minister Franklin Khan, Venezuela has started to transfer the barrels of crude oil to a tanker.
He added: “There was absolutely no tilt of the vessel that was recognized and the vessel was totally horizontal.
“All in all, the maintenance of the vessel met the satisfaction of the team.”