File Photo: The listing Nabarima has been at anchor here for years with oil in its tanks.

 GEORGETOWN, Guyana–October 20th, 2020–The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) today made several analyses and modelling of the potential threat of an oil spill from the FSO NABARIMA (bearing Venezuelan flag) which is listing with 173,000 tons of oil cargo off the coasts of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago in the Gulf of Paria.

The prognosis does not show any direct impact on Guyana’s shores or marine ecosystem from any releases happening.

Indirectly, it may affect fisherfolk who are licensed to operate in surrounding waters off the coast of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.

While there are no reports of any spills or discharges, there are concerns that if its contents do become discharged into the Gulf of Paria, it can become a major disaster that affects Caribbean countries.

Current response actions being taken include stabilization of the vessel by Venezuelan authorities and granting of permission by Venezuela for Trinidad to conduct inspections while alternative FSO vessels are being procured to transfer the NABARIMA’s cargo.

The CDC will continue to liaise with its local, regional and international counterparts to ensure the situation is adequately monitored and that no threats are posed to Guyana.

Fishing and sea-going vessels are urged to continue being on the lookout for any sighting of oil spills and to report immediately to MARAD Georgetown Lighthouse on telephone number 226-9871.

FSO Nabarima is a floating storage and offloading vessel that is permanently moored offshore of Venezuela at the Corocoro oil field in the Gulf of Paria, located between Venezuela and the island of Trinidad. After production at Corocoro ceased in 2019 following United States sanctions on the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Nabarima fell into a state of disrepair, and was reported in 2020 to be at risk of spilling her cargo of about 1.3 million barrels of crude oil.

The Corocoro field belongs to PetroSucre, a PdV-operated joint venture with Italy’s Eni, which holds a 26pc stake. Eni has said it is awaiting US clearance to help transfer the oil out of the listing vessel without running afoul of US sanctions. In early September, the company said the unit had been stabilized and a water leak resolved.

In a new statement today, Eni was careful to highlight the US and Venezuelan authorization. “Eni is ready to perform the activities to ensure the safe offloading of the Nabarima FSO offshore Venezuela, using state-of-the-art solutions.

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 US authorities that the mentioned activities bring no sanctions risk either for Eni and its contractors.”

The Gulf of Paria separates Trinidad from Venezuela by 16km (9.9mi) at their closest point. Trinidadian environmental groups have accused Port of Spain of foot-dragging, exposing the area to a potential environmental catastrophe.

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) said it approached the Nabarima on 16 October and its drone photographs “showed the vessel tilting at 25 to 30 degrees and increasing. Its anchor chains are taut, under extreme pressure.”

Trinidad has been unable to examine the extent of the damage on the FSO until it received permission from Caracas to cross the maritime border, Trinidad’s foreign ministry said. Caracas agreed to allow an inspection at the end of September, but changed this to 20 October, the ministry has said. A team of Trinidad experts is now preparing to inspect the vessel.