(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) ITOPF maintains a database of oil spills from tank vessels, including combined carriers, FPSOs and barges. This contains information on accidental spillages of persistent and non-persistent hydrocarbon oil since 1970, except those resulting from acts of war. The data held includes the location and cause of the incident, the vessel involved, the type of oil spilt and the spill amount. For historical reasons, spills are generally categorised by size, <7 tonnes, 7-700 tonnes and >700 tonnes (<50 bbls, 50-5,000 bbls, >5,000 bbls), although the actual amount spilt is also recorded. Information is now held on over 10,000 incidents, the vast majority of which fall into the smallest category i.e. <7 tonnes.
Information is gathered from published sources, such as the shipping press and other specialist publications, as well as from vessel owners, their insurers and from ITOPF's own experience with incidents. Historically, information from published sources mostly related to large spills, often resulting from collisions, groundings, structural damage, fires or explosions. In recent decades, however, reporting of smaller spills has improved.
Number of oil spills from tankers in 2022
For the year 2022, three large spill (>700 tonnes) and four medium spills (7-700 tonnes) were recorded.
Two of the large spills occurred in Asia and one in Africa. The medium spills occurred in North America, Asia and Africa.
This brings the decade average to almost 6 spills (>7 tonnes) per year. This is on a par with the average for the 2010s.
(This data relates to spills with confirmed volumes.)
The total volume of oil lost to the environment from tanker spills in 2022 was approximately 15,000 tonnes. More than 14,000 tonnes of this can be attributed to the three large incidents.
Over the past half-century, statistics for the frequency of spills greater than 7 tonnes from tankers have shown a marked downward trend, as illustrated in Figure 1 below.
The average number of spills per year in the 1970s was approximately 79. This decreased by over 90% to 6 in the 2010s and remains at a similar level for the current decade.
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