A tanker holding 1,3 million barrels of petroleum is listing — which could spark a horrific oil spill. In the Gulf of Paria, a Venezuelan oil tanker holding about 80 million gallons of oil was parked for nearly 2 years. New images reveal that the ship is heavily listed on its side — which adds to a rising fear about a future environmental tragedy that is affecting one of the world’s richest biodiversity.
The Nabarima holds nearly 1,3 million barrels of cruel crude, according to local lawmakers and environmental groups, almost five times as much as the famous Exxon Valdez spillage in 1989. The ship is part of the Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) joint partnership with Italia’s Eni SpA.
On Monday, the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea environmental association representing 50,000 local fishermen called on the Caribbean Government to work together to protect the area and people against a potential catastrophe, stressing the need for the ‘safe, healthy sea’
Since January 2019, the ship has been stuck in the Gulf. An Eni spokesperson said that Reuters wanted to unload crude oil but waited for the U.S. government’s “green light” in order “to avoid the chance of sanction.”
Gary Aboud, the company’s secretary visited the vessel Friday and said it was “scary,” and Aboud’s video shows the boat tilting at an angle that he measured to be about 25 degrees.
“These are not false images. No one is doing anything,” Aboud says, with the listing vessel behind him. He called for a national emergency.
“Our cries have gone unanswered and it appears that the Nabarima’s situation is worsening daily,” the organization wrote on Facebook. “Their silence is unacceptable and if the vessel overturns, will never be forgiven.”
This week, legislatures from the Venezuelan National Assembly ‘s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change called on PDVSA and Eni “as soon as possible” to unload barrels from the tanker.
In the press release, María Gabriela Hernández Del Castillo, President of the board, said that the tanker is now listing further than the group reported in August, when the head of the Unitary Petroleum Workers Federation of Venezuela reported that the ship’s flooding of lower decks was approximately 9 feet high.
The United States on Friday PDVSA has said it “is responsible for taking steps to stop an environmental catastrophe in Venezuelan waters,” warning citizens also in neighboring countries. Embassy Tabago said PDVSA was also “responsible to take steps.
Previously, PDVSA has denied the ship presenting a threat. In September, Pedro Figuera, executive director of the state oil company, tweeted that Nabarima was following environmental protection procedures.
SE HUNDE NABARIMA es una plataforma de almacenamiento tiene 1300000 bls de petroleo a bordo a punto de derramarse y causar una terrible catástrofe mundial desde golfo de Paria y el Caribe.
Condiciones paupérrimas y profundo deterioro, cubierta inferior y equipos 3 mts bajo agua pic.twitter.com/U5WQZM2GPs
— Eudis Girot (@EudisGirot) August 30, 2020
“Eni is ready to perform activities to ensure the safe offloading of the Nabarima FSO offshore Venezuela, using state-of-the-art solutions,” a spokesperson for Eni told CBS News. “The company will be able to proceed only after approval of its plan by PDVSA (majority shareholder and operator in Petrosucre) and upon formal assurance by the competent U.S. authorities that the mentioned activities bring no sanctions risk either for Eni and its contractors.”
Hernández said that “no sanctions” could prevent the companies from transferring crude oil, calling it a “cheap excuse.”