WITH US sanctions against Venezuela making it difficult for that country to secure a vessel to empty some 1.1 million barrels of crude oil from the sinking oil storage unit, Nabarima, Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) has appealed once more to US Ambassador Joseph Mondello for help.
Corporate secretary Gary Aboud has written to Mondello asking him to appeal to US President Donald trump,” to temporarily ease the sanctions that the US has placed on Venezuela thereby allowing the international community to lend much needed assistance in averting this disaster.
Bloomberg has reported that Venezuela is finding it difficult to secure a vessel on which to empty the oil from the vessel, which is reportedly sinking off its coast, because of US sanctions.
In a release on Saturday, FFOS said it has also written to the outgoing European Union Ambassador (EU) Aad Biesebroek and to Mondello, “appealing to their good office for an immediate international response to the potential catastrophe that is looming in our Gulf of Paria.”
The EU’s new ambassador is yet to be named but FFOS has requested that pressure be placed by that office on the Italian government-owned Ente Nazionale Idrucarburi, which owns a 23 per cent share in the Nabarima to provide a blueprint of the ship and hull design to allow for an independent and scientific determination of the status of the vessel to be made so as to forecast and mitigate potential risks.
It also wants the office of the ambassador to take a proactive approach and mobilise its vast resources and technical expertise to contain and minimize the impacts of this spill, “an undertaking we are certain that neither the Nicolas Maduro regime or our reticent Government is capable of fulfilling.”
With growing concerns about the stability of the stranded Venezuelan floating oil storage unit and the possible environmental catastrophe it poses to the Gulf of Paria, and TT, environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh has suggested that the TT government take a helicopter out to assess the situation and bring about calm once and for all.
Kublalsingh said he is not aware of the facts except what he has read in the local and international media and does not want to create hysteria.
“The media has expressed concern, the government of Venezuela is saying it is pretty stable, that it was leaning and has been stabilised. TT Government is also saying they are monitoring the situation.”
He suggested that the Venezuelan Embassy in TT should be able to say what Venezuela is doing to rescue the ship and mitigate any impact.
“Obviously, if the vessel sinks that would be a tragedy of a generation and more. It would have a most disastrous impact on the Gulf of Paria.”
“If there is anything I would recommend is that Government send a helicopter out there to monitor the situation, see the impact if you are around the ship, because the oil would surface on the water.
He said pictures can be taken and shared with the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) so they would know what is happening.
"They (GOTT) are well within their rights to do that if there is a risk to our shoreline.".
Aboud has appealed to the Prime Minister to lead a delegation to Venezuela to confirm whether or not the Nabrima is sinking.
“Should this vessel capsize the effects on the Caribbean’s marine environment and to our local fishing communities will be immeasurable. We hope that both of the esteemed Ambassadors can treat with the issue with the utmost urgency to prevent the greatest environmental disaster that the Caribbean has ever faced and to safeguard the Gulf of Paria for generations to come.," Aboud said.
The Energy Ministry on Thursday said there is no risk of an oil spill from the tanker but said it continued to monitor the situation.