Amcham: Government needs to deal with Nabarima threat

Amcham TT president Patricia Ghany. -
Amcham TT president Patricia Ghany. -

PATRICIA Ghany, president of the American Chamber of Commerce of TT (Amcham), says the government needs to use every available option to deal with the Nabarima oil vessel.

The tilting vessel, containing about 1.3 million barrels of oil, is in Venezuela's waters in the Gulf of Paria. It reportedly poses an imminent threat to surrounding waters, lands and their eco-systems.

Ghany was delivering the opening remarks at the 24th HSSE Conference & Exhibition on Monday. The conference is taking place virtually.

She said, "We are facing an imminent environmental disaster of gargantuan proportions in the form of the Nabarima.

"That floating offshore storage vessel needs to be offloaded. What happens to the oil after, can be worked out, but we believe our Government should use every available avenue, including international pressure if necessary, to ensure that the Venezuelan Government and the Italian company ENI offload the oil and stabilise the Nabarima to protect our environment."

Some have viewed the government's response in dealing with the vessel as vague and slow.

On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign and Carincom Affairs said it had not been given permission by Venezuelan authorities to inspect the vessel despite repeated attempts.

In a subsequent statement the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries said it was actively collaborating with the ministries of Foreign Affairs and the National Security for solutions.

Ghany added, "Should a spill occur if the vessel were to sink, the environments of several countries including TT, Guyana, Suriname and possibly some of the OECS countries would be in grave danger.

"The effects will be felt for decades and even maritime traffic would be affected.

"We simply cannot allow this to happen. Our government must act and let the country (and) indeed the international community know what is being done and by when to avert this potential environmental catastrophe."

On Monday, the environmental activist group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea said it had received unconfirmed reports, with pictures, from Venezuelan counterparts that the vessel is now "temporarily stable."

In a statement, it said it appeared from the photos that the vessel was no longer leaning but floating upright at sea level.

It said, "We are informed that over the weekend, the water that was seeping into the bow and ballast tank was pumped out," the statement read, suggesting that US-imposed sanctions which prevented the Maduro regime from selling the oil have been temporarily relaxed to facilitate the relief of the emergency.


"Amcham: Government needs to deal with Nabarima threat"

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