Downward trend in oil spills continues, says ITOPF

The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) has said that the downward trend in oil spills from tankers continues. The average number of 700 ton-plus oil spills from tankers has progressively reduced, averaging just 1.7 a year since 2010.

In 2016, one tanker incident which resulted in a spill of greater than 700 tons of gasoline and diesel was recorded in the Gulf of Mexico in September. Four medium-sized spills (seven to 700 tons) of fuel oil were also reported in 2016.

The total amount of oil lost to the environment through tanker incidents in 2016 was approximately 6,000 tons, the majority of which can be attributed to the incident in the Gulf of Mexico.

A decline has also occurred in medium-sized spills. The average number of spills per year in the 1990s was 28.1, reducing to 14.9 in the 2000s and is running at 5.0 to date for the current decade.

Between 1970 and 2016 nearly half of large oil spills occurred while vessels were underway in open water. Allisions, collisions and groundings accounted for 59% 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% of spills.

However, some 99.99% of crude oil transported by sea arrives safely at its destination, said ITOPF.