Tanker oil spills set record low in 2009

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, July 6
-- In the year before the massive oil spill created by the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, oil pollution from tanker accidents set a record low.

The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) annual report said there were no major oil spills from tankers in 2009. It defines a major spill as one exceeding 700 tonnes.

More ocean oil spills result from tanker accidents than from blowouts of offshore wells.

Intertanko said the amount of oil pollution from tankers in 2009 was at its lowest level since International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. (ITOPF) began keeping records in 1970. ITOPF was created in 1968 to administer a voluntary compensation system established in response to the Torrey Canyon tanker spill off the UK in 1967.

The small spills that occurred in 2009 tended to be bunker spills involving small tankers, Intertanko said.

Fatalities from tanker accidents totaled 15 in 2009, compared with 55 in 2008. The 2009 fatalities resulted from a bulk carrier that collided with an oil tanker, which then caught fire, in the Malacca Straits; a small tanker that exploded after a collision with a fishing boat in China; a tanker launching a boat that capsized off Greenland; and an explosion in the forecastle of a product tanker in ballast off the Netherlands.

Intertanko said the biggest change in incident type in 2009 was groundings, the number of which increased by 14 from the prior year to 64. Most groundings involved small tankers.

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