The Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA wants to pump the crude oil from the listing FSO Nabarima, which is reported to be leaking oil as soon as possible. The aframax tanker Icaro is on its way to the ship in the Gulf of Paria. The Nabarima is loaded with approximately 1.3 million barrels of crude oil.

Last weekend, the environmental group Fishermen and Friends of the Seas (FFOS) shared images showing that the supertanker was listing heavily. The activists warned that the ship was in danger of capsizing and millions of litres of oil would flow into the sea.

Later, news agency Reuters reported that a repair crew was working on the tanker. It was reported that there were leaks.

This week, FFOS reports that they have indeed received images showing that the angle of heel has been corrected. The ship would now be afloat again. PDVSA’s tanker, the aframax Icaro, is on its way to the Gulf of Paria. This ship would in any case take over part of the cargo through ship-to-ship transfer.

FFOS has warned, however, that the risks of this operation are not sufficiently mitigated: ‘There are insufficient measures in place to contain any spillage that may occur during the transfer especially since the FSO Nabarima is unstable. The Petrolos De Venezuela (PDVSA) must have necessary oil spill containment equipment around the vessel should the worst occur.’

American sanctions hinder oil transfer

The Corocoro oil field belongs to PetroSucre, a joint venture operated by PDVSA with the Italian company Eni, which has a 26 per cent share. A complicating factor is the American sanctions against Venezuela.

Eni says in a statement that it can only transfer the oil after formal authorisation from the US Government, because the Icaro is one of several tankers subject to US sanctions against Venezuela. ENI wants assurances that the action will not affect other parts of the oil group.

Picture: The FSO Nabarima threatened to capsize in the Gulf of Paria (photo still of video by Fishermen and Friends of the Seas (FFOS)).

This article first appeared in Dutch on Schuttevaer, a publication of SWZ|Maritime’s publishing partner Promedia.

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The video published by FFOS on 17 October: