55 Million Gallons of Oil on the Brink of Spilling and Destroying Ecosystems

"It's an accident that's happening in slow motion," locals say.
Derya Ozdemir

An environmental catastrophe that could cause horrifically devastating effects five times bigger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which spread 11 million gallons (41,639,529 lt) of oil into Alaska's waters in 1989, might be unveiling in the Caribbean's aquamarine waters. 

The Venezuelan-flagged FSO Nabarima vessel, which had been floating unused since January of last year, contains approximately 1.3 million barrels of crude oil and now, has taken on water, leaning to one side in the Gulf of Paria, Venezuela. 


54 million gallons of crude oil aboard the vessel

The vessel is reportedly under repair as of now and sits idle close to Trinidad and Tobago, twin-island nations located some miles off Venezuela's northeast coast. While it is Venezuelan-flagged, it is operated by a joint company named Petrosucre that is between Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela and the Italian oil giant Eni.

After being sanctioned by President Donald Trump's administration, Petrosucre had frozen oil extraction in January 2019, leaving some 54 million gallons of crude oil aboard the vessel.

The boat seems to be tilted at about a 25º angle

However, local environmental advocates are voicing their concerns over the current appearance of the boat since it seems to be on the verge of sinking.

Photos reportedly taken on October 13 and published on 16th by Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, an environmental NGO located in Trinidad and Tobago, emerged last week, showing the boat tilted at about a 25º angle. 

If the load were to ever spill, it would devastate the regional fishing industry and the gulf's delicate ecosystem which serves as a habitat for whales, dolphins, turtles, and many other species. 

The U.S. embassy in the twin islands has urged immediate actions to be taken in order to prevent a potentially disastrous oil spill. Eni has also made a statement on Friday, stating they were trying to unload the oil but are waiting for approval from the U.S. to do so. 

Gary Aboud of the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea said to radio station WMNF, "It's an accident that's happening in slow motion." With delicate ecosystems at risk, the needed measures have to be taken immediately. 

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