Concerns are growing about the potential for an ecological catastrophe in the Caribbean as an oil tanker with millions of gallons of oil could spill its load into the sea between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Venezuelan-flagged FSO Nabarima has lain in the Gulf of Paria since last January when U.S. sanctions on Venezuela made it illegal for companies that operate in the U.S. to trade with the country’s state-owned oil company.
According to US media, the tanker out at sea reportedly contains 1-point-3 million barrels of crude oil.
This Trinidadian resident and leader of a local fisher group in that country, Gary Aboud, is raising an alarm about the state of the vessel.
He’s also expressing concerns about an official statement that was issued on the status of the vessel from the government of the twin-island republic.
In the meantime, Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, says the matter is being actively addressed by the Trinidad and Tobago government and monitored by a CARICOM inter-agency taskforce established for that purpose.
On her twitter page she shared a media release from that country’s government, dated October 16.
In the release, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs says the government has consistently used all channels to press for verification of the status of the vessel.
The Trinidad and Tobago government says Venezuala had indicated that the vessel was titling some time ago but that they’ve done stabilization works so it was no longer in danger.
It says the Venezuelan government had granted permission to Trinidad and Tobago to cross the border and inspect the ship, but later rescinded that permission.
It also says the Venezuelan government has also described videos and photo evidence of the tilting vessel as propaganda.
But, it says the Trinidad and Tobago government continues to reiterate its concern and maintain calls for permission to inspect the ship.