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An oil tanker with 60M gallons of oil aboard is currently sinking [video] (youtube.com)
243 points by Tipewryter 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 51 comments

Highly upvoted comment on that youtube video:

"They want to have an oil spill. The cleanup effort costs millions of dollars and the contracts will be awarded to organisation which are in league with politicians and big business. That's how taxpayer money is pocketed by these villians. That's what happened in Mauritius."

The creator/poster of the video agrees. ("It does appear that this is the case.")


The FSO Nabarima [1]:

> is a floating storage and offloading vessel permanently moored offshore of Venezuela at the Corocoro oil field in the Gulf of Paria. After production at Corocoro ceased in 2019 following United States sanctions on Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Nabarima fell into a state of disrepair, and was reported in 2020 to be at risk of spilling her cargo of about 1.3 million barrels of crude oil.

> Following the Corocoro shutdown, Nabarima was abandoned with about 1.3 million barrels of crude aboard, and in July 2020 began listing to starboard, followed by a leak into her engine room the following month that failed bilge pumps were unable to pump out.

The YouTube video maker/poster seems to be jumping to conclusions, much as HN commenters did with the Kamchatka Eco-Disaster. [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FSO_Nabarima

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24760072

I now think this explanation is false. Can't edit the comment because two hours have passed. Please have a look at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24812214 instead.

tldr: The ship is in Venezuelan waters. Noone cares.

The ocean doesn't work like that unfortunately. This is less than a few hundred miles from many caribbean island, one being my homeland. This would have a detrimental effect on the the livelihood of all these islands.

Bit conspiracy theory? Isn't there also a cost to someone associated with losing all that oil, even at $40 a barrel?

From the wikipedia page on the Mauritius incident, wasn't the cleanup paid for by the owners and their insurance? (as you'd expect)

Insurance usually pays out for the loss of cargo to the owner of the cargo.

Paying for clean-up is fairly murky, as most of the time it is high seas, and the laws are different. Also the company which runs or owns ship will usually will be asset light and just declare bankruptcy. Look at the case in Lebanon, many countries are not equipped to handle this kind of problem.

It may not be deliberate intent to sink the ship, but the systems we have in place does not provide a lot incentive for the operators to act fast or act at all.

If you want to go down the rabbit hole, you need to ask who gets paid for the clean-up instead of who gets to pay.

But yeah -- it does indeed seem far-fetched.

Is there an insurance policy on Nabarima to begin with? Is it real? or by a Venezuelan company?

60M gal / 42 gal/bbl x $40 / bbl = $76,000,000

I was watching a video about how there are thousands of ships (6300) sunk from the past which did not have oil leached from their tanks.

These have been converted to basically ticking time bombs as the metal and fuel tanks corrode.

The amount of oil in these sunk ships is difficult to estimate, but even on a light estimate resulted in a wide-spread ecological disaster.

As usual the response from 95% of governments out there is simply to bury their heads to the problem.

Source from DW Documentaries (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP0U62oiBlM)

Aren't there literal explosives in the Thames on sunken ships the UK Government is just ignoring?

Yes, SS Richard Montgomery:

The ship was wrecked off the Nore sandbank in the Thames Estuary, near Sheerness, England in August 1944, whilst carrying a cargo of munitions. About 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of explosives remain on board,[5] which continues to be a significant hazard.[6][7]


Tom Scott: https://youtube.com/watch?v=R9u41aeItss

They aren't ignoring it as per se, it gets inspected regularly and security is controlled, but there just isn't a good enough risk/reward to get rid of it right now.

Most of the explosives are inert but there are cluster munitions on the top deck IIRC that if nudged too much could set the whole thing off.

Inert explosives underwater is less concerning i think think relative to extremely toxic oil sludge made from coal.

The detonation of those explosives is not altogether considered a bad outcome...


We already know that there a natural oil leaks all over the ocean floor, which makes me wonder if a lot of such additional small leaks all over the world are really going to have an impact.

Reading from the reddit thread, situation has been developing since September. So thankfully, the process is SLOW. Until it reaches some tipping point perhaps.

We have 3 choices:

A. Optimistic One: A carrier ship arrives and takes the crude away.

B. Burn the oil into the air. Though these platforms are not designed to burn the crude itself. Only the residual gases.

C. Dump into the ocean. Eventuality if left alone.

Tough choices there between B & C!

EDIT: Typo.

Apparently, the problem us not technical, but political. Offloading the product is relatively straightforward, but this is a platform used by Venezuela for oil processing. One would need to apply political pressure to force them to allow for offloading to prevent a marine life end environment catastrophe, as they are going to strongly assert the sovereign status (it's currently positioned in Venezuelan territorial waters) of the oil processing platform.

EDIT: Links moved from another comment as they are my citations for this comment.

Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/jctitw/oil_tanker_w...

This comment in particular: https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/jctitw/comment/g93n...

According to Wikipedia [0] it's the US government who blocks offloading of the oil from this platform under the threat of sanctions, not the Venezuelan one. And the US sanctions is one of the factors which lead to this situation in the first place.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FSO_Nabarima

According to the same article the platform was property of a US based multinational corporation and was seized by the Venezuelan government. Sanctions were warranted.

> was seized by the Venezuelan government

I don't see it in the article.

Even so, if a multinational is extracting resources from a country, I'd consider seizure of assets fair game, unless shown otherwise. It's not as if the companies are morally impeccable, poor countries rights and laws respected or even the international treaties fair.

TIL! Thank you for sharing that important context!

No way to guarantee them the oil is still theirs / pay them for it? Probably worth a coalition ’buying’ that boat from them...

Probably. 60M gallon payload is roughly 1.43M barrels, assuming ~$42/barrel market price the fair market value to compensate Venezuela for the oil would be just a few dollars shy of $60 million. Throw in a little extra for assuming possession of the vessel and towing it to a ship breaking facility in Brownesville, Texas.

Since the listing is caused by water and failed bilge pumps, and since moving the oil seems to be politically contentious, is there no hope of option D pumping out the water and then repairing the bilge pumps? Perhaps this only kicks the can down the road, but aside from being perhaps politically less contentious, one might imagine that being able to pump out water requires a less specialized operation?

Also, the wikipedia page for the Narabima says it was "abandoned". Does maritime salvage law enter into this? I.e. absent intervention by some government, is this basically an opportunity for any private party with the right equipment to try to go out and claim 1.3M barrels of oil?

Salvage law doesn't entitle you to just automatically keep stuff. You're entitled to fair recompense (including a profit) for your work - and in the event that nobody will pay you can achieve that recompense by selling the thing salvaged but that's a bunch more effort and you may have to fight in the courts to get/keep your money. These are specialist skills, why not earn slightly less money with far lower risk doing a normal on-contract at-sea recovery job?

Also, while today many countries think it's very important not to - for example - spill vast quantities of toxic materials into the ocean, this was not originally a concern of salvage law, and so not all jurisdictions will be friendly to the idea that you deserve reward partly for preventing an environmental disaster. Countries with modern salvage rules would pay more for the fact you're preventing a massive oil spill than if you "salvaged" millions of gallons of say mild saline solution that were inexplicably being moved and aren't toxic, but the work is the same even if you're paid less.

Technically yes it can be claimed as salvage if it is abandoned, however it also inside Venezuelan territorial waters, Venezuela can always confiscate goods from the salvaging ship or hinder operations if they choose to do so,and can make salvage crew does pay for the Oil.

If it's not being patrolled, how long would it take to just come alongside and pump the oil out to sell? Surely that would cost less than you could get for the oil.

In particular, how much could you pump out overnight?

What is choice C?

The last choice is not a choice is to let incompetence and delay take its toll

Choice C version 2 - Smash the oil into microscopic droplets so it is possible for the bacterias in the ocean to eat it

I’m honestly impressed that there are any functioning natural ecosystems on Earth at all at this point.

The ones that remain are tremendously compromised. Our benchmarks tend to be recent: personal experience within a lifetime especially.

For the oceans, little data predates the 1950s, after much damage was done. The degradation since is still staggering.

Over the past few centuries, let alone millennia, impacts have been massive. Few are evident directly, most require geological orother scientific inference ... buried traces of past ecosystems.

A "fun" thing to do is to zoom in on anywhere at all in Google Earth.

There's basically no natural world left, on land anyway.

Don't worry, you wouldn't be not impressed for long.

There’s another one of the shore of Yemen. I thought this was about that one, but no. There’s apparently at least two oil disasters under way.

The tanker I recall sitting off the coast of Yemen is known to be used as the lair of the Iranian RG. Is it slowly sinking?

Any source?

Yeah this is something that seems really easier to fix now and really hard to fix afterwards

1.3 million gallons, not 60 million, but when you get to that scale it doesn't really matter.

The good (?) news is that the list is apparently intentional, in order to repair some ballast pump valves. https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-pdvsa-eni-vessel/idled-ven...

60 million gallons, over 1 million barrels.

"Floating Storage and Offshore (FSO) vessel containing tens of million of gallons of oil with a severe list off the coast of Venezuela"

"PDVSA in September sought to downplay the risks after the vessel developed an 8 degree list in late August, reportedly the result of flooding in the engine room."


The tower of Pisa leans at 4 degrees...

This ship rests off of the eastern tip of the Venezuelan shoreline, a country ruled by a communist dictatorship that runs all oil operations in the country and simply doesn't care about any of this.

They just had an oil spill from a refinery off the western coast in July and have done nothing to either prevent or fix it as far as I am aware (https://www.dw.com/es/alarma-por-derrame-petrolero-en-costas... in fact they had a second oil spill in the same location a couple of weeks later trying to get operations going again.

Heck, they had one last year that I believe is still ongoing on and off (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruW_lkWCums&t=244s) and this by no means an exhaustive link, just the ones I can remember off the top of my head while writing this note

By now may be thinking this case is surely different as it has international implications, but never mind, they've already done that before without major consequences (https://www.abc.es/sociedad/abci-petroleo-venezolano-origina...)

On top of this the dictatorship is actively blocking access to inspectors to review their claims that everything is under control (https://www.looptt.com/content/foreign-ministry-no-access-gr...) which is something they could do tomorrow if they so wished

As a Venezuelan I can assure you there's no need to invoke big business interests or sanctions; they simply don't care. I'd say everyone should start preparing for the worst; will it be a disaster? Absolutely ... one more to add to the long list of disasters they are responsible for; the dictatorship (and us everyday folks in some measure as well) have grown numb to them by now

PS: My hat's off to this guy who literally risked his life in order to bring awareness to this

Yeah, I guess the only way of getting it removed safely would be to the international community pressure a lot and trade it for something Maduro wants (I guess gold and probably some propaganda).

And yeah, that guy is really brave. Especially after that story of the Colombian captain being detained for months and then killed in a raid by national guards that wanted money. I guess now there are going to be patrolling it and Sebin is going to make sure no one gets close again.

Could you share a Google Maps link for the approximate coordinates of the ship?


Even better.

Isn't it cheaper to go there and pump out the oil and sell it, than to fix the ensuing environmental catastrophy?

One would think at least the insurance companies involved would be all over this.

For the Kind Attention of Mr Gary Aboud,

Dear Mr Aboud,

Good Morning to you sir, I am writing urgently to you to offer our services in relation to the terrible potential disaster you will encounter in relation to the Nabarima Oil Spill in the Gulf of Paria, and wish to offer you our assistance going forward. I have been reading and following your recent posts on social media with regards to this and fully agree the Government of Trinidad & Tobago and other Caribbean Islands need to act upon this with immediate effect, your voice needs to be heard sir and it is, we back you fully on this.

We at Gobbler Oil Recovery Specialists here in the UK, would be more than willing to assist you and other Governments to assist and prevent the devastation that will happen, should the Oil Tanker sink, we are today putting together a complete dossier of what would be needed to protect your beaches, marine life and equally important your Tourism Business, without this you have no Economy sir, of which you are more than aware of…

Once this has been completed I will gladly forward this over to you for your thoughts and comments. As you have said in your previous comments the Venezuelan Government are not doing anything to include your Government of which is shameful, one needs to act upon this now before we have another Valdez Oil Spill like we had in 1989, but the main worry is this one will be much worse and bigger.

Trying to approach any Government Minister to get this point over seems impossible, everyone seems to put their head in the sand and wait for this disaster to happen, it does not need to be this way, our expert team of professionals can undertake the whole operation to secure this from happening, given the chance. We have are own product that we use for any Worldwide Oil Spill’s being a product called GoSorb, I have attached a link for you to view at your leisure, we can also fully assist with the Sargussum Threat you also have in the Caribbean. https://www.gobblerboats.com/video/

I am sure you have the connections within your Government to approach them and advise them that at Gobbler Boats Ltd, we are here to assist them, and can get our team out to you with immediate effect and undertake the severe problem you have at present, we are here to help you all in any way we can.

Please feel free to view our Company Website: https://www.gobblerboats.com/

People do listen to your sir, the points you have raised thus far are so powerful, something needs to be done now, not after the event…..

I would welcome your reply via email or if you wish to make contact at our Office please do feel free to call me on the relevant UK contact numbers below.

One wishes you a most pleasant day.

Kindest Regards Peter

Peter Daniell Head of Logistics Gobbler Tel: Mobile No. 07989-960807 Office: 0208-0040992 Office: 02921-880168

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