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The non-profit group that has been publishing photos and video of the FSO Nabarima with a heavy list off the coast of Venezuela said they have been misled by Venezuelan sources as to the status of the vessel, further stoking concerns about the vessel’s condition.
The FSO Nabarima, a floating storage and offloading vessel, is currently anchored in the Gulf of Paria between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago and reportedly contains 1.3 million barrels of crude oil. To put that in perspective, that’s about 55 million gallons of crude.
Photos published last Friday by the Trinidad and Tobago-based non-governmental environmental group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) showed the vessel with a heavy list to starboard, raising serious concerns regarding its condition.
A Reuters report from Friday, however, citing an anonymous Venezuelan official with knowledge of the matter, said the list was due to repair work that was being conducted on the vessel’s valves.
While this could be the case, FFOS warns not to trust “blatant and repeated lies” from the Venezuelan government.
A statement earlier Monday from FFOS indicated that, based on sources in Venezuela, that the FSO Nabarima had been temporarily stabilized after water was pumped out of the vessel’s ballast tanks, thereby reducing the list.
An update from the group, however, retracted this statement after, according to FFSO, it was determined that photos shared with the group by Venezuelan sources, which showed the vessel with a more even keel, apparently may have not been current.
The “propaganda,” as FFOS called it, raises more questions than it answers regarding the vessel’s status.
“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 [on October 19],” the update said.
“As such, it is our respectful view that the pictures sent to us today were taken at a far earlier date,” the update said.
gCaptain is unable to independently verify the images, the condition of the vessel, or whether or not the list was the result of valve repair work onboard the facility.
The FSO Nabarima, which is controlled by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA with Italy’s Eni as a minority stakeholder, has been idled since early 2019 due U.S. sanctions on PDVSA as part of the Trump Administration’s pressure campaign on the Venezuelan government under President Nicolas Maduro. It’s these circumstances that have also made it difficult to offload crude from the vessel.
“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,” Fishermen and Friends of the Sea said in today’s update.
“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,” it added.
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