Offloading crude from stranded oil tanker FSO Nabarima would take around 30 to 35 days, Trinidad & Tobago’s Energy Minister Franklin Khan said. The vessel which was on the verge of spilling 1.3 million barrels of crude oil into the Caribbean no longer poses a major environmental risk, he added while addressing media persons on Sunday.
“The FSO Nabarima is upright and stable, with no visible tilt or imminent risk of sinking,” the Minister said.
“Observations made by a team of experts who visited the FSO Nabarima showed no visible tilt or water ingress within the vessel. The team also inspected other areas of the vessel, including the control room, boiler room, pumps and bilge tanks and noticed no water ingress, a report published on Loop Cayman stated.
“Their report indicated that everything seemed to have been fine. There was no evidence of water ingress of water presence. Two generators were operational, one was on standby. All systems appeared to be functional and the double hull is intact,” said Khan.
He said Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela both share an oil spill contingency plan which could be invoked by either party if there was imminent danger.
The Minister noted that another vessel, the Icaro, was due to offload the crude, which would most likely be transferred to Venezuela, and noted that the vessel’s capacity is smaller. As a result, the offloading of the Nabarima’s 1.3 million barrels of oil would take between 30-35 days.
They have therefore suggested using a larger tanker to offload the crude, ideally so that the operation would take place within two-to-five days. Khan said that the existing process is safe. “The transfer process that is currently taking place, albeit slow, is considered very safe.”
Regarding footage shared by conservation group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, which was taken on October 16, he said he could not comment on that. “Our team visited on Tuesday and they have seen the vessel totally upright, no list. The double-wall is intact. I have no comment to make on who posted what.”
FSO Nabarima: The Nabarima is a floating stored oil (FSO) vessel which stores oil from the Corocoro Oil field in the Venezuelan Gulf. The vessel which has a capacity of 1.4 million barrels of oil, is jointly owned by Venezuela’s PdVSA and Italian company Eni Group and was fixed at that location for approximately 10 years.
The vessel has been dormant after US sanctions were placed on PDVSA preventing international trade. In a statement earlier this month, the US Embassy has said no sanctions would occur from any operation resulting from an environmental or humanitarian crisis.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) is calling for CARICOM (Caribbean Community) as well the other nations that depend on the Caribbean Sea – including Latin American, French and Dutch Caribbean territories – to meet urgently to discuss the implementation of a regional plan of action to address environmental disasters such as the one created by the FSO Nabarima vessel, a report published on UNILAD stated.
FFOS issued a statement on Thursday, as the environmental watch group continues to monitor the vessel that’s currently sinking in the Caribbean Sea. “We all mutually depend upon the Caribbean Sea and in the 21st Century it is appalling that there is no binding agreement to facilitate an emergency response plan with an inventory on standby including human and intellectual capital and infrastructural mechanisms to respond in the event of a disaster like this.”
The group noted that images obtained from SkyTruth and reports circulating in global media claim a Venezuelan oil tanker, the ICARO, has approached the FSO Nabarima and is transferring some of the oil within. This has afforded an opportunity to assess the listing. However, FFOS said the vessel remains a threat, the UNILAD report further stated.
Below is the link to the video shared by Fishermen and Friends of the Sea in which the FFOS has appealed for a declaring the matter as a National Emergency (Video Courtesy: Fishermen and Friends of the Sea / Gary Aboud):
(References: Loop Cayman and UNILAD)
Sea News Feature, October 26