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Wednesday, 25 November, 2020

Oil tanker Nabarima could trigger environmental disaster: The US says

The US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago issued a statement urging PDVSA, the oil company controlled by Nicolas Maduro's regime, to take the necessary steps to prevent an environmental disaster.

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The US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago expressed its concern about the environmental risk posed by the Venezuelan-flagged vessel Nabarima in the Gulf of Paria, which contains nearly 1.3 million barrels of crude oil and is close to sinking at sea according to several reports.

Nabarima has taken in water and is listing badly to its starboard (right-hand) side. The state-owned company PDVSA reported that it began pumping out of the troubled ship and into a tanker, but this is precisely the type of high-seas maneuver that analysts say can cause a disaster.

You must read What we know about the Nabarima, the leaking tanker loaded with one million oil barrels

On Thursday, Trinidad and Tobago qualified as risky the transfer of crude oil from the Nabarima to other vessels. The island nation assured that this could cause the feared oil spill.

The amount of oil in the Nabarima is about five times the Exxon Valdez spill. The worse oil spill in Venezuelan history took place only a few weeks ago, affecting some 300 square kilometers, which included a sea-side National Park, coral reefs, mangrove, keys, and beaches where several varieties of turtles nest.

In a statement, the US embassy expressed: “We strongly support the immediate measures so that the Nabarima complies with international safety standards and avoids possible environmental damage, which could negatively affect not only the Venezuelan people but also those of neighboring countries.”

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The United States held Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) responsible for the measures to be taken to avoid an environmental disaster in Venezuelan waters.

“In general, the US sanctions program for Venezuela is not designed to focus on activities that address security, environmental or humanitarian problems. These activities to avoid an ecological disaster are consistent with the US policy of supporting the Venezuelan people and avoiding further damage to the environment,” the text warning.

The Nabarima generated international alarm after the denunciation made by a group headed by the executive director of the United Federation of Oil Workers of Venezuela (Ftupv), Eudis Girot, about the possible sinking of the vessel, which threatens to cause an ecological disaster in the Gulf of Paria.

Girot informed El Pitazo on September 5 that the ship got repaired in four days due to these complaints. The risk of sinking is no longer imminent, the union man said.

A PDVSA tanker went this Tuesday, October 20, to the floating installation to begin the transfer of crude oil that threatens to contaminate the Gulf of Paria, near Trinidad and Tobago. The digital platform Refinitiv Eikon showed the ship Icarus in the vicinity of Nabarima at 2:37 pm this Tuesday. Other reports have the vessel Jubilant Dream, which left from China, is also approaching the Nabarima.

Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho.

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