A drone photo taken by the FFOS shows the Nabarima tilted to one side in the Gulf of Paria.

Government which received permission to send an inspection team onto the damaged oil tanker Nabarima today, says its immediate next steps will be guided by the team’s report.

Foreign Affairs Minister Amery Browne stated this yesterday ahead of the team’s visit.

The team includes officials of the Coast Guard, Maritime Services Division, Energy Ministry and Institute of Marine Affairs.

The officials are expected to board the vessel and do the inspection which includes taking samples.

The visit comes after Government’s bid for official independent verification of the vessel’s status after international reports that the Nabarima- laden with 1.3 million barrels of oil – had sustained leaks, was taking on water and leaning to the right in July and August. There were local and international concerns about a potential environmental disaster looming.

The floating storage vessel is operated by Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and Italian firm Eni.

PDVSA stated it was repaired and was stable.

However, Government decided on the verification visit.

The TT team was supposed to complete the inspection since last month but Venezuela – after initially agreeing- later said it could not be done until today.

The Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) took video footage of the vessel last Friday. This showed the vessel was definitely listing heavily to one side, rusting in places and toting taut anchor chains.

Yesterday Minister Browne gave no details of the team’s mission – how long it would be, or if the team would land on the vessel by helicopter.

Instead he said, ”The objective is to emerge with a report based on data and scientific observations focused on the safety and stability of the vessel and an assessment of any potential risk of environmental damage.”

“Whilst we recognised that the vessel belongs to Venezuela and is located in Venezuelan waters, Government has been consistently using all available diplomatic channels to press for this inspection opportunity on behalf of the many concerned people of TT and part of our commitment to do everything in our power to help safeguard the marine environments .”

“Our immediate next step would be guided by the report of the inspection team.”

Yesterday FFOS corporate secretary Gary Aboud stated the environmental group urgently awaits Governments expert report

“We urge the Institute of Marine Affairs, who will be on this excursion to perform a fingerprint analysis on the oil so that in the event of a spill, we would know whether the oil came from the FSO Nabarima. “