UNC M.P. for Oropouche West, Dave Tancoo, said that “the Trinidad & Tobago Government’s mishandling of the potential disaster – associated with the dangerously listing oil tanker FSO Nabarima – is a ticking time bomb.”
This, as a team of experts were expected to visit the vessel on Tuesday.
He said, “Our Nation is facing a potential catastrophic environmental and economic disaster should this oil tanker sink and spill its millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Paria. The livelihoods, jobs, and welfare of thousands of our citizens — as well as our national ecology, marine life, and shorelines — are in grave danger.”
According to Tancoo, reports of this impending crisis were first raised in August 2020 by a Venezuelan trade union leader, who advised that the vessel was suffering from water ingress and was in real danger of sinking.
Local fishermen subsequently reported seeing oil in the water suggesting there was already seepage.
The oil tanker is jointly operated by Venezuela’s state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Italy’s ENI oil giant, and has been abandoned in the Gulf of Paria between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.
“Given the location of the ship, any spill will do significant damage to our country’s economy, from the massive costs of clean-up, to ecological devastation, loss of earnings for fisherfolk, damage to maritime vessels, loss of food security, all of which will run this country into hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Tancoo, who also serves as Opposition Shadow Minister of Finance.
“It is very frustrating that it has taken so long for the government to get involved, especially given the fact that this government had face-to-face meetings recently with the top executives of PDVSA,” Tancoo stated.
He said the government lifted both the Covid-19 border and quarantine restrictions it had imposed on the nation in March 2020, to host a clandestine meeting with Vice President of Venezuela, Delcy Rodriguez and senior executives of PDVSA, after the borders closed.
“Whereas, all cross-border activity and even entry of our own citizens, who are stranded overseas, still remain in lockdown today,” he said.
Tancoo questioned whether any mechanisms and contingencies have been put in place to mitigate the risks associated with this potential disaster or whether the Office of Disaster Preparedness had been put on alert.
Fellow UNC colleague Dr. Roodal Moonilal who is the MP for Oropuche East is also stating that the Government should intervene in preventing this disaster.