The ill-fated Venezuelan oil tanker raises fears of an environmental disaster in the Caribbean

Fears are growing that an oil tanker carrying millions of gallons of oil could spill its cargo into the sea between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, causing An environmental disaster.

Naparema, which has the Venezuelan flag, has been located in the Bay of Paria since last January when US sanctions on Venezuela Make it illegal For companies operating in the United States to trade with the country’s state-owned oil company.

The Energy and Foreign Ministers of Trinidad and Tobago told the Miami Herald that a team would visit the ship on Tuesday. Trinidadian officials could not be reached for comment.

Nabarima is It holds 1.3 million barrels Of crude oil, according to Venezuelan politicians and green activist groups. With up to 80 million gallons of oil, a ship spill could cause an environmental disaster: Exxon Valdex leaked in 1989It is one of the worst recorded oil spills, with 11 million gallons released covering an area twice the size of Rhode Island.

Venezuela previously said the ship was safe, but environmental activists and politicians say the new images show it is tilting at an increasing rate.

Naparema is seen slanting in the Bay of Paria, between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, on Friday.Fishermen and Friends of the Sea / Reuters

Trinidadian Environmental Group Fishermen and friends of the seaIt called, which represents 50,000 people in the local fishing industry, a national emergency. The group visited the ship by boat on Friday Post a video Shows Nabarima’s tilting and hanging anchor chains.

“If something happens, and if we have bad weather, there are a number of conditions that can cause the ship to sink, and then we cannot resort,” said Gary Abboud, the company’s secretary at the group.

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Naparema is jointly owned by Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Eni, the Italian oil giant.

PDVSA was not immediately available to comment. NBC News approached Eni for comment.

Legislators from the Venezuelan National Assembly, who tend to criticize President Nicolas Maduro, He called the country’s government To quickly unload oil from Nabarema to avoid a disaster, he said the risk had “increased alarmingly”.

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“As a result of its weight and tides, the vessel is seen to be more inclined (list) than was reported last August,” Maria Gabriela Hernandez del Castillo, chair of the association’s environment committee, said in a press release.

The US embassy in Trinidad and Tobago raised its concerns about the ship In Friday’s statement, Warning that the leak “could negatively affect not only the Venezuelan people but also the neighboring countries.”

NBC News contacted the government of Trinidad and Tobago for comment.

Venezuela has previously denied any problems with Naparema. In September, the external chief executive officer of the state oil company of Venezuela, Pedro Figuera, said on Twitter that Naparema had “complied with environmental and operational standards”.

He later denied reports that the ship was unsafe as “lies” and said that it met the required criteria “despite alleged information from false experts on social networks.”

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