Venezuelan oil spill: up to 50,000 barrels to clean up

Mar 12, 1997 01:00 AM

Mar. 4, 1997 A naval official estimated that it could take a month to clean up the 25,000 barrels of extra heavy crude that spilled last week near the shores of Lake Maracaibo, the heart of Venezuela's oil industry. The oil spilled Friday spill from the Greece-registered ship Nisos Amorgos, which was carrying 64,573 tons of the crude to Italy. The ship was rented by the Italian company Agip Petroil Spa. The crude sank "in globs to the bottom of the sea, which makes it easier to control and minimises its environmental impact, but at the same time could slow down its total removal for a month," a navy spokesman said.
The vessel drifted out of the correct channel and briefly ran aground.
It's possible that up to 50,000 barrels leaked out, the official said. "The slick has affected about 12 km of beach near the islands of San Carlos and Zapara," 750 km west of Caracas, he added.
Venezuela has the largest proven reserves outside the Middle East, and is the No. 1 foreign oil supplier to the United States.About 80 percent of production comes from below Lake Maracaibo, near the western border with Colombia, and passes through the Gulf of Venezuela en route to the Atlantic Ocean.

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