Officials from Trinidad and Tobago say the Nabarima are intact and pose a “minimal risk” of oil spills in the Caribbean.
A damaged Venezuelan oil tanker that recently tipped sideways in the Caribbean after taking in water poses no significant risk of spilling and causing an environmental disaster, Trinidad and Tobago officials said Thursday.
Energy and Energy Minister Franklin Khan said a team of experts from his country inspected the Nabarima – a floating storage and unloading facility (FSO) – Tuesday to allay previous fears that it was about to 1.3 Sink millions of barrels and spit out oil.
The double hull tanker is “intact and currently carries minimal risk of oil spill,” said Khan.
He said Venezuela had started the slow process of unloading oil to further avoid disaster. This operation is expected to take up to 35 days.
“The team confirms that extensive maintenance is in progress,” said Khan. “Pumps and electric motors are repaired and replaced if necessary.”
Officials from Trinidad said they would continue to monitor the effort and have requested permission from Venezuela for a follow-up examination in a month.
The team confirms that extensive maintenance work is in progress. Pumps and electric motors are repaired and replaced if necessary.
In early September there was international outcry over the Venezuelan flagged Nabarima, a 264-meter-long ship believed to be filled to almost 1.4 million barrels of crude oil – about five times the amount, which the Exxon Valdez spilled in 1989.
The tanker was used as a stationary platform in the Gulf of Paria and was intended to support the export of Venezuelan oil. It was permanently anchored in waters between Venezuela and Trinidad.
The storage tanker has become inactive due to the recent slump in global energy demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and United States sanctions against the Venezuelan government that have frightened potential buyers of the country’s heavy crude oil.
Venezuelan officials have all along denied the risk.
At the urging of environmental groups, oil workers unions and fishing communities on the surrounding coasts, officials in Trinidad asked Venezuelan officials to let them go aboard to independently inspect the ship.
Venezuela holds the largest oil reserves in the world, but has been plagued by an apparent increase in accidents and oil spills [File: Fernando Llano/AP]Khan said a technical team from Trinidad carried out an air inspection on a Venezuelan helicopter which showed the tanker was hovering upright with no tilt.
When they landed, they found no water inside and the double hulls were healthy, Khan said.
The Nabarima is part of a fleet owned by Petrosucre, a joint venture between the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and a minority partnership with the Italian oil company Eni.
Concerns about a potential ecological disaster stemmed from the collapse of Venezuela’s once thriving oil industry.
Venezuela is home to the world’s largest oil reserves, but has been plagued by an apparent spike in accidents and oil spills, including one in August that damaged a nine-mile stretch of pristine Caribbean beaches hours from the capital, Caracas.