FSO Nabarima Is 'Upright' but Crude Transfer Could Be Risky

The FSO Nabarima listing in the Gulf of Paria on October 16 (Photo: Fishermen and Friends of the Sea)
The FSO Nabarima listing in the Gulf of Paria on October 16 (Photo: Fishermen and Friends of the Sea)

A Venezuelan floating oil facility that had been listing in recent weeks is upright and shows no sign of sinking, but plans to offload crude from the vessel posed some risks, the energy minister of neighboring Trinidad and Tobago said on Thursday.

A team of experts from Trinidad inspected the Nabarima facility on Tuesday and found there was “absolutely no tilt” and that the vessel was “totally horizontal,” Energy Minister Franklyn Khan told reporters.

“There is no imminent risk of tilting or sinking,” Khan said, adding that the team had spent more than three hours touring the vessel, and had asked Venezuelan authorities to visit again in one month.

The Nabarima belongs to the Petrosucre joint venture between Venezuela's state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Italy's Eni SpA. It has been idle since the United States sanctioned PDVSA in early 2019 as part of Washington's effort to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

The facility is laden with 1.3 million barrels of Corocoro crude. Images in recent months of the vessel leaning to its side have alarmed environmentalists.

PDVSA, which did not reply to a request for comment, plans to offload some of the crude to its Icaro Aframax tanker, which is scheduled to deliver 550,000 barrels of Corocoro to western Venezuela’s Amuay port, according to a company document seen by Reuters.

It plans to do this by transferring 10,000 barrels of crude per day from the Nabarima to the Inmaculada barge, which would then bring the crude to the Icaro, a person familiar with the matter said.

Khan estimated the process would take 30 to 35 days.

“The Venezuelans are doing the proper thing by attempting to offload the vessel,” Khan said. “The extended period for the offload in itself poses a slight risk, although the operation is deemed to be safe.”

(Reporting by Linda Hutchinson-Jafar, Mircely Guanipa and Marianna Parraga; writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis)

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