Politics & Current Affairs

Caribbean Crisis: 60 Million Gallons of Oil2 min read

A Venezuelan-flagged vessel at risk of spilling 60 million gallons of oil into the Caribbean, and causing an environmental crisis.

In January 2019, the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s biggest state-owned oil company PDVSA to force out Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan president, who has been described as a ‘dictator’, a fraud and perpetrator of crimes against humanity. 

The Nabarima Floating Storage and Offload Unit has been deserted on the Gulf of Paria in the Caribbean since 2019. This was the result of the banning of the US-based fuel industry corporation Citgo from purchasing oil following the sanctions.
The presence and possible threats of a vessel being left at sea have been neglected by the Venezuelan administration and the owners of PDVSA for almost two years. However, new information shows the unit carrying 60 million gallons of oil is tilting, sparking fears of an environmental crisis in the Caribbean.

Instagram Appeal

The FFOS (Fishermen and Friends of the Sea) are attempting to raise awareness and appealing for the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and international ambassadors, to address the situation and take action urgently.

Corporate Secretary of FFOS, Gary Aboud, talks about Nabarima and why it is so important.
Credit: @ffos_global via Instagram

In a video on their Instagram page, Gary Aboud, the Corporate Secretary of FFOS said that he went out to sea on October 16, to get “firsthand, reliable information of the condition of the Nabarima”. He said this was a duty to all who depend on a clean ocean.

The Maduro administration of Venezuela recently released images and information stating that the vessel is ‘stable’ and poses little risk. Aboud found the vessel on a roughly 25 degree tilt, held together by rusting chains. He argues these are not strong enough to stand through anything which could cause the vessel to topple.

The FFOS claimed that the facts suggest that due to negligence and unprofessional conduct, the largest environmental disaster is imminent.

The FSO Nabarima is located at the Caribbean Sea, between the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the east coast of Venezuela.
Credit: vesselfinder.com

Loss of Marine Life

According to the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, there have been “62 spills of seven tonnes and over, resulting in 164,000 tonnes of oil lost” in the past decade. Oil spills considerably damage ecosystems and marine life, as seen in 2010 with the largest oil spill in history.

Thousands of turtles, fish, dolphins and whales died following the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Beyond recovery, coral reefs were destroyed after 200 million gallons of oil exploded. Residents, fishermen and workers helping with the clean-up of oil suffered ill-effects from the chemicals. The economy of the Gulf of Mexico commercial fishing industry plummeted, and fishermen went bankrupt.

If the Nabarima sinks, the effects would mirror the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Oceans, wildlife, coral reefs and the economy of the Caribbean could take years, if not decades, to recover.

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