Over half-way into this decade and the downward trend in oil spills from tankers continues, says the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF). For the last three and a half decades the average number of incidents involving large oil spills, i.e. greater than 700 tons, from tankers has progressively reduced and since 2010 stands at an average of 1.8 per year.
In 2015, two spills of oil over 700 tons from tankers were recorded; one a crude oil spill in Singapore and the other a spill of naphtha in Turkey. ITOPF provided technical advice to the vessels’ insurers in both incidents. Six medium-sized spills (7-700 tons) were also reported in 2015, involving cargoes of asphalt, naphtha and slurry oil as well as bunker fuel.
The total amount of oil lost to the environment through tanker incidents in 2015 was approximately 7,000 tons, the majority of which can be attributed to the two large spills.
This continuing trend in low numbers of large oil spills annually is encouraging news for tanker operators and governments alike as they continue to work to improve standards of operations in sea-borne transportation, says ITOPF.
In the 1990s, there were 358 spills of seven tons and over, resulting in 1,133,000 tons of oil lost; 73 percent of this amount was spilt in just 10 incidents.
In the 2000s, there were 181 spills of seven tons and over, resulting in 196,000 tons of oil lost; 75 percent of this amount was spilt in just 10 incidents.
In the six year period 2010-2015, there were 42 spills of seven tons and over, resulting in 33,000 tons of oil lost; 86 percent of this amount was spilt in just 10 incidents.
In the period 1970 to 2015, 50 percent of large spills occurred while the vessels were underway in open water. Allisions, collisions and groundings accounted for 59 percent of the causes for these spills. These same causes accounted for an even higher percentage of incidents when the vessel was underway in inland or restricted waters, being linked to some 99 percent of spills.
2015’s Large Spills
On January 2, the Libyan-registered oil tanker Alyarmouk collided with the Singapore-registered bulk carrier Sinar Kapuas about 11 nautical miles north-east of Pedra Branca, east of Singapore.
On June 26, Louis Cristal, a cruise ship registered in Malta, and STI Pimlico, and 182-meter-long oil tanker registered in the Marshall Islands, collided off the Gallipoli coast in the Dardanelles Strait.