Esso oil spill prompts Solent Protection Society further call for Esso to use only double hull tankers to Fawley Refinery

Posted on 28 Feb 2005

On 4th February 2005 an Esso chartered medium sized single hull tanker collided with a similar ship in open sea 27 miles north off Port Said, Egypt resulting in a reported spill of about 6,000 barrels of Esso crude oil into the almost tideless Mediterranean.

The world tanker fleet is now about 65% fitted with double hulls and by 2010 it will become mandatory that, with very few exceptions, tankers must be built to this standard. Solent Protection Society questions whether this spill could have been avoided if Esso had chartered a double hull tanker?

Surely the international oil companies, all of which are announcing record trading profits, have a social duty to carry their oil now in double hull tankers, particularly in areas of restricted navigation such as the Solent and Southampton Water. Our case is emphasised by Esso themselves, who have agreed with us that these tankers do give extra pollution protection in the case of a collision or grounding.

In addition, the Marine Accident Investigation Board have now officially released its findings of the grounded “Attilio Levoli” off Lymington river last June with a full cargo of Esso Fawley chemicals onboard. Underwater photographs show significant hull abrasions.

Whilst the prime cause of the accident was poor bridge management, the report also points out that the ship was inspected by the Chemical Distribution Institute (CDI) nearly a month before and they found 3 bridge navigational defects. The CDI makes available all its ship inspection results. SPS questions whether Esso checked into them before chartering this ship? If they did, then they must have assumed the defects had been rectified, but why were they not inspected at the Fawley terminal on arrival?

Solent Protection Society sought a second meeting with Esso to discuss these issues, which potentially threaten all the Solent area, but our request has been declined. Esso believe that their insistence of marine excellence in the choice of tanker they charter (including those with single hull) deems it unnecessary for them to discuss these issues further with Solent Protection Society.

Solent Protection Society does not consider Esso’s policy to be satisfactory and continues its campaign for the use of ONLY double hull tankers in The Solent NOW, before a major oil spill severely damages our Solent Waters and threatens the wildlife, fishing stock and livelihood of Solent communities. The Society calls for support from all those who care about protecting the environment of The Solent for future generations.

If you are not a member of The Solent Protection Society, then we encourage you to sign up now and join our crusade.