• 3 minutes e-car sales collapse
  • 6 minutes America Is Exceptional in Its Political Divide
  • 11 minutes Perovskites, a ‘dirt cheap’ alternative to silicon, just got a lot more efficient
  • 20 hours How Far Have We Really Gotten With Alternative Energy
  • 7 days Natron Energy Achieves First-Ever Commercial-Scale Production of Sodium-Ion Batteries in the U.S.
  • 8 days Bad news for e-cars keeps coming
  • 6 hours By Kellen McGovern Jones - "BlackRock Behind New TX-LA Offshore Wind Farm"
  • 6 days The United States produced more crude oil than any nation, at any time.
  • 9 days RUSSIA - Turkey & India Stop Buying Russian Oil as USA Increases Crackdown on Sanctions
Economic Data is Driving Oil Price Movements

Economic Data is Driving Oil Price Movements

Oil prices experience weekly decline…

Aramco Secures $31 Billion in Orders for Bond Offering

Aramco Secures $31 Billion in Orders for Bond Offering

Saudi Aramco's latest bond offering…

The Future May Not Be As Electric as We Think

The Future May Not Be As Electric as We Think

The Saudi oil giant likes…

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

More Info

Premium Content

A Slow Motion Oil Crisis Is Unfolding In The Carribean

Venezuela tanker

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of uncertainty and dread right in the moments before a disaster of gargantuan proportions unfolds in front of our eyes. We might be living in that moment now if immediate measures aren’t taken to prevent what is soon to be an oil spill so horrifically devastating that it would be eight times bigger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which spewed 10.8 million US gallons of crude oil into the waters off the coast of Alaska in 1989. Right now, there is a floating storage and offloading facility floating in the Gulf of Paria off the coast of Venezuela, and it could sink at any moment, sending a catastrophic quantity of oil--80 million gallons--into the crystalline waters of the Caribbean Sea, ranking it as one of the top ten worst oil spills in world history. 

The Venezuelan vessel, called the Nabarima, is reportedly currently under repair in the Gulf of Paria, where it’s been floating, unused, since January of last year. The vessel is Venezuelan-flagged, but it’s actually operated as part of a joint venture between Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and the Italian oil giant Eni, which together form the company Petrosucre.

The United States embassy in Trinidad and Tobago has sounded alarm bells about the impending environmental disaster, calling for "immediate actions" in order to avoid a heartbreaking catastrophe, the dimensions of which we haven’t seen since 1991, when the ABT Summer spilled 80 million gallons into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Angola. 

Related: Oil Majors Stuck Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Fears of the Nabarima’s sinking were raised when a photo was circulated last week which revealed that the Venezuelan FSO vessel is floating at an incline, “raising fears that it could spill its load into the gulf devastating the regional fishing industry and delicate ecosystems,” Newsweek reported on Sunday. The whistleblowing photo was reportedly taken on October 13, and was published on Friday the 16th by Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), an environmental NGO stationed in Trinidad and Tobago. 

The Nabarima is just one of many Petrosucre operations that have been sitting idle since January, 2019, when a fresh round of sanctions from the Trump administration prompted the company to halt all of its oil extraction operations. This left the Nabarima adrift with 1.3 million barrels of crude oil, about 80 million gallons, which are now poised to spill into the Caribbean Sea. 

If this unbridled disaster comes to pass, it won’t be the first Venezuelan oil spill this year. In fact, it won’t even be the second. “In July, a state-owned refinery began to spill oil into the Morrocoy National Park, one of the country’s most biodiverse areas,” the New York Times reported in September. And then, later that same month, the Washington Post reported that another oil slick had been found snaking across the Caribbean. 

“Venezuela’s once powerful oil industry is literally falling apart, with years of mismanagement, corruption, falling prices and a U.S. embargo imposed last year bringing aging infrastructure to the brink of collapse,” the Washington Post reported on September 24. “As the government scrambles to repair and restart its fuel-processing capacity, analysts are warning that ruptured pipelines, rusting tankers and rickety refineries are contributing to a mounting ecological disaster in this failing socialist state.”

Little did they know. Any amount of oil leaking into the sea, destroying biodiversity and compromising the livelihoods and health of Venezuelans who are already suffering from extreme poverty and societal collapse, is a tragedy. But the potential apocalyptic proportions of what may be one of the top ten biggest oil spills in history beginning before our eyes right off the battered Venezuelan coast is a tragedy on a much grander scale.

As Nicolas Maduro’s failing government and crumbling infrastructure threaten to unleash hell on the Caribbean, it becomes all of our problem. The degradation of the oceans, and of the Venezuelan people themselves, who are already suffering a human rights crisis, is the responsibility of the international community. And we had better act fast, and hope that these reports end up sounding alarmist, and not prescient. 

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com 

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

EXXON Mobil -0.35
Open57.81 Trading Vol.6.96M Previous Vol.241.7B
BUY 57.15
Sell 57.00
Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News