Opposition MP to Gov’t: Act on oil tanker crisis

    Photo: www.maritime-executive.com

    Despite assurances from the government that it is monitoring the situation in the Gulf of Paria regarding the idled oil tanker FSO Nabarima, Opposition MP Anita Haynes believes it demands immediate attention from T&T.

    Initial reports stated that the tanker, carrying over one million barrels of crude oil, suffered water ingress in its superstructure/engine room area, with water in some compartments being up to 1.5 meters high.

    On Thursday, the Ministry of Energy noted that an ARGUS report dated September 2nd indicated that “the FSO is stable and that the recent water leak has been solved”, further stating that “plans are afoot to transfer the crude oil to another vessel to further stabilize the FSO and that there is no risk of an oil spill”.

    The Ministry also indicated that since the vessel is in Venezuelan waters, “T&T cannot unilaterally enter Venezuelan territory to conduct any reconnaissance or other works without being invited to so do.”

    Ms. Haynes, in a statement on September 5th, said “the Government ought to utilize every possible avenue to prevent a disaster.”

    She added that “It is alarming that no emergency or contingency plans have been put in place in the event of a major oil spill.”.

    The Energy Ministry, had previously noted though that “There exists a bilateral agreement between Venezuela and Trinidad for an oil spill contingency plan, in the event that a genuine risk exists or an active spill occurs. This agreement will guide the action of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.”

    Ms. Haynes though states that “the government they have a duty under the bilateral treaty on oil spills to get accurate information on this situation, and secondly, it should have started to consider how it would plan for the worst case which is a spill headed towards our west coast. “

    She believes if there is a failure to act on the environmental threat the Nabarima presents, the entire fishing industry of Trinidad and Tobago may never recover, and our marine environment and coastlines would be destroyed.

    Meanwhile, a Reuters report stated that an official with state company Petroleos de Venezuela said the oil storage facility is in “satisfactory” condition.

    The report also stated “With no operating crew on board, in July the vessel presented an 8% incline that created the risk of a spill, and in late August a sea water leak led to flooding in the engine room. Both issues were resolved.”