Venezuela sees two oil tanker grounding on same place

Mar 12, 1997 01:00 AM

Venezuelan oil and shipping authorities said they could not explain why two oil tankers had run aground in virtually the same place in the Gulf of Venezuela within the space of two weeks.
"The port authorities are still trying to figure out what happened. It's very strange," said a spokeswoman for Lagoven, subsidiary of PDVSA.
The Greek-flagged Olympic Sponsor ran aground Monday Mar. 10, in the outer navigation channel of Lake Maracaibo in north-western Venezuela. The tanker was en route to Rotterdam with 477,000 barrels of crude on board. The crude, which was taken on board at Lagoven's La Salina port in the north-west of Lake Maracaibo, was to be delivered to Germany's Veba Oel. (PDVSA owns a 50 % in Veba's 225,000 bpd Gelsenkirchen refinery.)
Port authorities were still working Wednesday to float the tanker which ran aground in virtually the same place as the Greek-flagged Nissos Amorgos tanker grounded Feb. 28 spilling at least 28,000 barrels of heavy crude.
The back-to-back accidents have led to suggestions that the Lake Maracaibo navigation channel was not being well maintained, an accusation rejected by the National Channels Institute (INC).INC Director Carlos Punar Abreu said gusting high winds common at this time of year could have pushed the tankers off course.
Port authorities announced Tuesday that tanker traffic through the channel had been restricted to ships with less than 38 feet (11.5 meter) draught. A shipping agent in Maracaibo said the Olympic Sponsor had a draught of 39 feet but that the 38 feet restriction was unlikely to affect oil exports from Lake Maracaibo.

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