Pitch Lake, oil lake

BC Pires
BC Pires


IF YOU want a visual illustration of the Trinidadian term, “monkey pants,” meaning a really bad situation, drive up to Fort George and have a look at the Gulf of Paria, which may very soon become the Gulf of Petroleum.

You may not see your monkey pants clearly now, but you will feel its effects soon enough.

The biggest uncertainty relating to the FSO Nabarima, a rusty Venezuelan oil tanker moored within Venezuelan waters in the Gulf of Paria, is whether it will sink or simply break apart.

The most assured certainty is that, unless a very great deal is done to prevent it, the Nabarima will very shortly spill1.3 million barrels of thick crude oil – five times more than the Exxon Valdez, an environmental disaster we’ve still not fully recovered from 31 years after it happened – into the Gulf.

It’ll look like something out of a Hollywood post-apocalypse blockbuster – but it will be us who get our block busted first and most thoroughly, and our apos properly calypsed.

Our own government has pointed out, correctly, that, though its effects will be felt more in Trinidad than anywhere else, and though the oil slick may spread all over the Caribbean and into the Atlantic and end up on coastlines hundreds of kilometres away – the five times less devastating Exxon Valdez spill covered 1,300 miles of coastline – this is, strictly legally speaking, a Venezuelan problem, and only Venezuela is legally permitted to attempt to solve it.

When that oil spills – because it will firetrucking spill – we will find out there is no such thing as “Venezuelan” waters in an ocean, only strict Venezuelan legal responsibility for an ecological disaster far worse than a century of hurricane seasons added together.

It’s not if the oil will spill, it’s when.

And it will be sooner rather than later.

The cost of emptying the sinking Nabarima of its toxic cargo is in the 0.something percentage range of the cost of cleaning it up.

So it’s not firetrucking rocket science, it’s arithmetic.

But the likelihood is that nothing will be done to prevent it.

No one should care more than people in Trinidad. The Nabarima is a far greater existential threat to us than the relative handful of “Venes” who have already washed up on our shores.

Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan leader, or at least the man in the national executive chair, has, for decades now, presided, apparently comfortably, over a slow-motion disaster. The Nabarima will not get his attention until it can stand in the streets of Caracas and demand bread and gasoline.

The moron squatting in the Oval Office will do nothing at all, unless what is the death for all we crapauds can be packaged and sold to him as fun for his schoolboy.

But it’s hard to hold Joe Biden responsible in this case, even if you managed to work in Hunter and Kamala.

Our own Government and Opposition, bless all their little heads, will do, in the case of the Government, nothing, and, in the case of the Opposition, perhaps considerably worse than nothing, when they use the looming, massive tragedy for personal, minuscule, political advantage. (And that, depressingly, wouldn’t change whether the PNM or the UNC was in government or opposition.)

And Trinidadians themselves, worn weary by covid19, will be unable to muster the energy and will to man the usual defences of 1. wearing some particular colour of clothing; 2. marching around the Savannah; or 3. organising a national day of prayer.

The threat is imminent, real and will happen at any moment now, unless a very great deal is done by a very large number of people.

So expect the more proactive Trinidadians to post a lot of videos or comments on Facebook and expect the rank and file to like them, or to make scathing comments about the one per cent who bread done butter, and wha’ ’bout po’ people chirren?

But maybe Trinidad will get lucky and, just as the Nabarima breaks apart, God will send a tidal wave to wash it all down to Guyana.

Ent it is oil them want?

BC Pires wonders how many people will realise this is not a put-down, but a call-up.

Read the full version of this column on Saturday at www.BCPires.com


"Pitch Lake, oil lake"

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