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The Entire Caribbean Is At Risk Of Environmental Catastrophe

This past week, the FSO (Floating Storage and Offloading vessel) known as Nabarima has been seen listing (nautical term for "tilting") at an alarming angle in the Caribbean Gulf of Paria. 

Situated between the coastlines of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, the vessel—which is co-owned by the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Italian oil giant Eni Spa—is stationed specifically to store crude oil for processing and is currently holding an estimated 1.3 million barrels of the stuff (equalling up to 80 million gallons).

 

 

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Gulf of Paria in context of rest of Carribean

The events leading to this situation extend beyond this past week. In January of 2019, the United States levied sanctions upon PDVSA, citing the corruption of Venezuela’s infamous socialist leader Nicolas Maduro directly. Maduro is, objectively speaking, a massive piece of shit. The UN’s panel of independent analysts have accused his administration of crimes against humanity including (but not limited to) “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions” using techniques such as “genitial mutilation and electric shocks”. Ninety-percent of the country lives below the poverty line and upwards of 4 million Venezuelans have had to flee their homes as a result of food shortages. The PDVSA has long been one of the ways corrupt Venezuelan officials have siphoned money from the hands of Venezuelan citizens directly into their own pockets.

Now, what does this have to do with Nabarima? Upon hearing of the sanctions, the PDVSA instructed crew members disembark, leaving the vessel anchored in place for the past 20+ months. This leads us to today, where local non-profit Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFSO), who represent upwards of 50,000 local fishermen, are calling for a National State of Emergency.

Most reading this will remember Deepwater Horizon, the offshore oil rig owned by BP that spilled roughly 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010. To put the situation with Nabarima into context, that spill ravaged roughly 16,000 miles of coastline up to 1,300 miles away. Trinidad and Tobago sits merely 206 miles from Barbados and 631 miles from Puerto Rico, with a slew of beautiful, biologically diverse islands and ecosystems in between. These islands are also homes to waves like Gas Chambers, Mount Irvine, and the below Soup Bowls. 

Simply put, the environmental and economic effects of Nabarima tipping over would be catastrophic. The Carribbean Sea is home to thousands of species of birds and wildlife. It's this natural beauty that results in some of these islands' GDPs being comprised of up to 30% tourism. BP paid $18.7 Billion for Deepwater Horizon in what is the largest settlement in U.S. history. 

As of today, an examination crew is supposedly being granted access to Nabarima, despite the crew arriving on October 16th. We will update this bizarre and potentially catastrophic story as more information becomes available. As always, it’s the region’s entirely innocent socio-economically disadvantaged communities and native wildlife who will be left most affected by actions rooted in corruption and greed. 

 

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