September 21, 2020 [Argus] – Trinidad and Tobago is concluding arrangements with Venezuela to allow its inspectors to access a damaged oil storage vessel in the Gulf of Paria, the Caribbean state’s energy ministry told Argus.
The inspection of the Venezuela-flagged Nabarima is meant to “independently verify reports that the vessel has been stabilized and that leaking oil does not pose a threat to our waters,” Trinidad’s energy ministry said.
The inspection will not violate US sanctions on Venezuela, the ministry added.
The Trinidadian and Venezuelan governments have exchanged the required protocols to clear the way for the inspection that will happen by the end of September, the ministry said.
“We have been told arrangements are being made to offload the cargo and we are relieved that this is happening,” the ministry said, adding that the inspection will deliver the assurance that Trinidad’s waters are not in danger of a major oil spill.
The Nabarima, which is holding around 1.2mn bl of crude, has been moored at the offshore Corocoro field in the Gulf of Paria for 10 years. The field, which is not currently in production, belongs to PetroSucre, a joint venture operated by Venezuelan state-owned PdV. The company’s minority partner is Italy’s Eni.
The vessel had been listing in recent weeks, but PdV and Eni have since said the vessel is upright after problems were corrected.
The Corocoro field had been producing around 11,000 b/d of medium-quality crude before it was suspended in August 2019.
Trinidad has a bilateral oil spill contingency plan with Venezuela, but transferring the oil off of the Nabarima has been delayed by the sanctions.
Eni has said it awaiting a green light from the US before proceeding to help deploy a dynamic positioning tanker to drain the vessel. How the crude is handled after it is unloaded is unclear in light of the sanctions.
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