Concerns are mounting about the risk of an environmental disaster of nightmarish proportions confronting the region from a stricken oil tanker anchored in the waters between Trinidad and Venezuela.
The Venezuela-registered oil storage ship Nabarima is loaded with 80 millions barrels of oil.
Recent reports suggested that the ship was unstable and at risk of sinking.
Experts say if that happens it could cause an oil spill dwarfing the Exxon Valdez disaster with the consequential ecological and economic nightmare for the tourism-dependent Caribbean region.
Research suggests that in a worst-case scenario oil drifting on the Caribbean current could travel northwestward through the Caribbean Sea and into the Gulf of Mexico, not only affecting Trinidad and other nearby islands but posing a potential risk to the Cayman Islands and other countries in the Western Caribbean.
The Nabarima has been stranded in the Gulf of Paria since the United States slapped a trade embargo on the Venezuelan government in August last year.
A team of experts from Trinidad and Tobago boarded the vessel this week to assess its stability and the risk it poses.
The Trinidad and Tobago government has said the oil storage tanker was stable and upright “at this time” and that there was no imminent danger.
No leakage of oil was reported.
It was also stated that offloading some of the oil onto a smaller vessel posed a greater risk than the fears of the tanker sinking.
There have been concerns about the condition of the vessel which is said to have fallen into a state of disrepair.