A damaged Venezuelan oil tanker recently tilting to one side in the Caribbean after taking on water poses no significant risk of spilling and causing an environmental catastrophe, Minister of Energy of Trinidad & Tobago Franklin Khan said on October 22nd. A team of experts from his country had inspected the FSO Nabarima.
Khan said a Trinidadian technical team did an aerial inspection from a Venezuelan helicopter showing that the tanker was floating upright with no tilt. Upon landing, they found no water inside and the double hulls were sound, Khan said. “The team confirm that major maintenance is ongoing,” Khan said. “Pumps and electrical motors are being repaired and replaced as needed.”
He said Venezuela had started the slow process of unloading oil to further avoid disaster, an operation expected to take up to 35 days.
Venezuelan officials have denied all along that any risk existed. They said that the photo of the FSO while listing had not been taken recently, but a month earlier, when the vessel had been undergoing planned maintenance, during which time such a list would have been anticipated.
The Nabarima is part of a fleet owned by Petrosucre, a joint venture run by Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA and a minority partnership with the Italian oil firm Eni.