Gulf Ship-to-Ship Transfer Spills Common and Neglected?

Illustration; Image courtesy: Saga Shipping

An oil slick was spotted on January 25 on the beaches of Aqqah, Fujairah, a home to renowned beach resorts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), satellite imagery provided by Tanker Trackers, a pro-bono website that monitors the flow of oil at sea, shows.

The oil is believed to have been spilled during a ship-to-ship transfer, according to the co-founder of Tanker Trackers, Samir Madani.

These ship-to-ship transfers are necessary due to the shallowness of certain parts of the Persian and Oman Gulfs, hence two smaller tankers are sent to load up oil to a very large crude carrier, which needs at least 22 meters of depth.

As a VLCC is much higher than the tanker feeding it, the discrepancy can lead to spilling of oil.

It appears that the oil transfers often result in spills in the region, which are not that known to the public, and often neglected by the authorities.

Namely, on January 11 another oil spill was reported by Tanker Trackers off Basrah, Iraq.

A ship-to-ship transfer, which took place on January 11, is believed to have been the source of the spill.

The spill, which spread over a distance of at least 11 kilometers in the following days drifting closer to shore, was reported to the Ministry of Oil of Iraq and the Port of Basrah.

However, the authorities remained unfazed by the occurrence.

In UAE on the other hand, the authorities seem to be frustrated by the frequency of these spills, Madani told World Maritime News.

In 2005, the Fujairah Port issued an order to tankers to conduct ship-to-ship transfers outside the port area amid common oil slicks that were reaching the port waters.

Most of these anchorages where ship-to-ship transfers take place are rocky and pertain to the international waters, which makes it even harder to hold those accountable for damages.

Furthermore, as the area is a transit point for many ships it is very difficult to find the source of the spill.

Tanker Trackers has made it its mission to help find these sources of spills by utilizing satellite imagery.

World Maritime News Staff

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