Over 20 months ago, a Venezuelan oil tanker —Nabarima—carrying 55 million gallons of crude oil was abandoned off the north of Venezuelan’s coast in the Gulf of Paria, near the island-state of Trinidad and Tobago (That is 5x the amount of crude oil in the Exxon Valdez spill). The ship is now sinking, yet if the cargo starts to leak it could cause a major ecological disaster in its Caribbean waters.
The Nabarima is flying under a Venezuelan flag, it is operated by Petrosucre company, the Petroleos of Venezuela (PDVSA), and the Italian oil giant Eni. In January 2019 Trump imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan controlled PDVSA. Petrosucre reacted by stopping its extraction operations and by abandoning the ship off the coast of Venezuela.
According to the Miami Herald and Reuters:“Eventually, the ship fell into a state of disrepair. A person familiar with the matter reported that it was undergoing repairs.”
What happens now?
This week, finally, there has been some action. Trinidad and Tobago’s energy and foreign ministers will dispatch a team of experts to investigate the situation whilst PDVSA has recently claimed that it will engage in a ship-to-ship transfer to offload the crude oil using tugboats.