Friday 30 October, 2020

Update: Nabarima photos fake, situation still critical, says FFOS

Photo: FFOS Corporate Secretary Gary Aboud shared video of the FSO Nabarima in Venezuelan waters on October 16, which was said to be listing and in danger of sinking. The group has called for an independent team of experts to provide aid. Photo: FFOS.

Photo: FFOS Corporate Secretary Gary Aboud shared video of the FSO Nabarima in Venezuelan waters on October 16, which was said to be listing and in danger of sinking. The group has called for an independent team of experts to provide aid. Photo: FFOS.

Update October 19, 2020 4:54 pm:

Photos which appeared to show that oil storage vessel, the FSO Nabarima, had recently been stabilised are false, says conservation group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea. 

The group shared an update comparing the photos to footage shared from reconnaissance the group undertook on October 16:

(Photo via the FFOS)

'Upon further inspection of the pictures sent to us which we released earlier today and based on information obtained from independent experts who we have been in constant contact with, Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) retract the statement issued to the press and onto our social media earlier today 19th October, 2020, which intimated that the FSO Nabarima was temporarily stabilized and that the water was pumped out. However, we still maintain that the FSO Nabarima is being used as leverage by the Maduro Regime to ease current US Sanctions.'

'In the photographs taken by ourselves on the 16th of October there is a huge rust spot on the port side of the vessel’s hull , which is not evident on the pictures sent to us by our Venezuelan contact (see enclosed).'

'Secondly, our expert has informed us, the picture sent today shows a hull that is in a well maintained state, whilst the pictures obtained by FFOS show a hull which is not.'

'Thirdly, it is inconceivable that the FSO Nabarima was pumped out in only 2-3 days.  In today’s photos, there is no evidence of water being pumped overboard which should have been very visible. Our expert contact also noted that the vessel’s “bilge” discharge would have created an oil slick which is absent in the photos. As such, it is our respectful view that the pictures sent to us today were taken at a far earlier date.   (See enclosed photos) . We apologize for this misinformation however note  that this is exactly why for the past 60 days, we have appealed to PM Rowley to get first hand verifiable information.'

The group said it eagerly awaits the result of the planned vessel inspection tomorrow:

'These allegedly fake photos are misleading and point to a greater risk that the Maduro regime are determined to cover this up and deceive fearful stakeholders on the truth. If the Maduro regime is prepared to continue to maintain their trickery it is critical that our Government’s mission tomorrow be transparent with photo and video evidence to the population of Trinidad and Tobago. Any failure on their part will speak to their abdication of their oaths to protect Trinidad and Tobago and its citizens and at worst, their complicity with the blatant and repeated lies of the Maduro Government.'

'FFOS urgently await our Governments “expert” report and urge the Institute of Marine Affairs, who will be on this excursion to perform a fingerprint analysis on the oil, so that in the event of a spill, we would know whether the oil came from the FSO Nabarima.'

'We also urge our Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider the placement of someone with expertise in ship maintenance and repair onto this team of experts to ensure that a proper understanding of the vessel’s state is obtained and possible permanent solutions are advised.'

The Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs said a team of experts would be permitted to inspect the vessel, which was said to be at capacity and carrying approximately 1.3 million barrels of oil, on October 20. 

On October 17, FFOS Corporate Secretary Gary Aboud shared a video of the listing vessel, which was said to be at capacity, after venturing into Venezuelan waters.

The video received half a million views on YouTube, with many calling for urgent action.

A petition has also been launched online with over 13,000 signatures as of this morning.

More as this story develops; view the online petition here: https://bit.ly/31iTRoX

 

Update October 19, 2020, 10:00 am:

Conservation NGO Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) has shared photos of Venezuelan oil storage vessel, the FSO Nabarima, which, according to unconfirmed reports, appears to have stabilised slightly. 

The group said in an update this morning that it has received photos showing the vessel's improved position however these reports are as yet unconfirmed.

'Fishermen and Friends of the Sea(FFOS) have today received unconfirmed reports with pictures from our Venezuelan counterparts that the FSO Nabarima is now ‘temporarily stable’.

 

'It appears from the enclosed unverified photos that the FSO Nabarima is no longer leaning/ listing dangerously on the starboard but is floating upright at sea level. We are informed that over the weekend,the water that was seeping into the bow and ballast tank was pumped out.'

(Photo of the FSO Nabarima showing the vessel which appears to be partially stabilised. Photo: FFOS.)

Aboud said he was informed that sanctions placed against Venezuelan company PDVSA were relaxed in order to address the environmental emergency:

'The imposed US sanctions which prevented the Maduro Regime from selling this oil have now been temporarily relaxed to facilitate this environmental emergency.  FFOS question whether this environmental threat/danger is being intentionally staged by the Maduro Regime to use as leverage in order to trade the 1.3M barrels of crude oil on the international market.'

'Whether this impending disaster was provoked or not, this is a temporary relief and more needs to be done! The structural integrity of the FSO Nabarima is compromised,all the oil must be transferred to eliminate any chance of spillage and environmental decimation of our shared Gulf of Paria.  The FSO Nabarima has been anchored in this location for 15 years and has not been maintained in the past three years. Temporary relief is insufficientand with immediate effect FFOS respectfully request:'

The FFOS is calling for an independent team of experts to verify the vessel's status, to propose a safe method for the removal of the oil stored on the vessel, and to advise on repairing the vessel.

(Photo of the FSO Nabarima showing the vessel which appears to be partially stabilised. Photo: FFOS.)

The group is also calling for unity between Latin America and CARICOM to develop and implement a Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan to address similar environmental emergencies.

'Until our Government and RegionalLeaders act with urgency, the looming threat of the FSO Nabarima could potentially cause a major environmental genocide in our Gulf of Paria which will destroy our Caribbean tourism product.'

The group said it will continue to monitor the situation.

On October 17, FFOS Corporate Secretary Gary Aboud shared a video of the listing vessel, which was said to be at capacity, after venturing into Venezuelan waters.

The video received half a million views on YouTube, with many calling for urgent action.

A petition has also been launched online with over 13,000 signatures as of this morning.

On October 16, the US Embassy issued a statement calling for the situation to be addressed immediately, adding that no sanctions would occur in the case of environmental or humanitarian emergencies. 

The Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs said it offered to send a team of experts to examine the vessel and said Venezuelan officials had indicated they would be permitted to view the Nabarima on October 20.

More as this story develops; view the online petition here: https://bit.ly/31iTRoX

 

Original story: 

The US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago has issued a call for immediate action on Venezuelan oil storage vessel, the FSO Nabarima, which was said to be listing. 

In a statement issued today, the US Embassy assured that there would be no risk of sanctions where environmental concerns are involved.

‘The United States remains concerned by the potential risk to safety and environment posed by the Venezuelan-flagged vessel, Nabarima, in the Gulf of Paria. We strongly support immediate actions to bring the Nabarima up to international safety standards and avoid possible environmental harm, which could negatively impact not only the Venezuelan people but also those in nearby countries.’

The US Embassy called on Venezuelan energy company PDVSA to take action: ‘PdVSA has a responsibility to take action to avoid an environmental disaster in Venezuelan waters.’

The embassy added that the sanctions against Venezuela would not target environmental or humanitarian emergencies:

‘As a general matter, the United States’ Venezuela sanctions program is not designed to target activities addressing safety, environmental, or humanitarian concerns.’

‘These activities to avert an ecological disaster are consistent with US policy to support the Venezuelan people and avoid further harm to the environment.’

The Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs issued a statement today saying a team of experts are awaiting permission to inspect the Nabarima, which was said to listing and in danger of leaking into the Gulf of Paria.

The Ministry said the team would be allowed to view the vessel on October 20. 

Conservation NGO Fishermen and Friends of the Sea called for urgent action, saying the spill could be one of the worst environmental disasters in the Gulf of Paria, if not addressed. 

The vessel was said to be at capacity at around 1.3 million barrels of oil, and was said to be below the water line in an update on September 4. 

Venezuelan officials said plans were underway to transfer the crude to another vessel to further stabilize the FSO.

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