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Friday, May 14, 2021

T&T government urged to act urgently on tilting vessel that could spill 1.3 million barrels of crude into sea

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The government of Trinidad and Tobago is being urged to act swiftly concerning a Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) vessel that is tilting precariously in the Gulf of Paria with 1.3 million barrels of crude onboard.

The Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) has written to authorities appealing for the situation to be urgently addressed before catastrophe befalls the Nabarima which was built in 2005 and is sailing under the flag of Venezuela.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, FFOS said it has spoken to representatives of the US Embassy and have been assured that T&T does not risk US sanctions should it seek to lend humanitarian and environmental aid to the Maduro Regime.

“Our cries have gone unanswered and it appears that the Nabarima’s situation is worsening daily,” FFOS said.

The letter was copied to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, US Ambassador to T&T and the European Union Ambassador to the country.

“Their [the government] silence is unacceptable and if the vessel overturns, will never be forgiven,” FFOS stated.

U.S. expresses concern over tilting oil vessel near T&T, supports efforts to avert potential disaster

T&T’s Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs said Friday since learning of reports that there had been tilting of the Venezuelan oil storage vessel the government has engaged in consistent action in the best interest of its citizens.

“There was swift communication of our concerns to the Government of Venezuela on behalf of our people and our environment,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

According to the Ministry, the Venezuelan Government indicated that the vessel was indeed tilting some time ago but emphasized that they had conducted initial stabilization works on the Nabarima and that it is no longer in any danger.

“Our Government has engaged via repeated and consistent communication, including multiple Notes Verbale sent to Venezuela on the matter, with persistent efforts to achieve access to the vessel in order to make our own determinations,” the Ministry said. “The Venezuelan Government then agreed to permit a team of our experts to cross the border and assess the Nabarima, but subsequently shifted from an initial position that this could be done by the end of September to their current position that the inspection team would receive permission to visit on 20th October.”

On October 15 the Venezuelan Ambassador categorically described a new photograph being locally circulated on social media, which purports to represent severe tilting of the Nabarima in October, as total propaganda, the T&T Foreign Ministry stated. “He has claimed that the photograph was actually taken over one month ago before the stabilization work was done on the vessel, and that it is now being held up as a current photo in an effort to mislead.”

The T&T government said it maintains its concerns about the threat to the environment and “continues to seek the best for our people in this matter.”

A T&T inspection team is ready to proceed and the government continues to press for access to the FSO Nabarima as soon as possible, the Ministry stated.

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