Indian Ocean oil spill after Japan ship crash

Indian Ocean oil spill after Japan ship crash

Tuesday, August 15th 2006

A Japanese tanker is believed to have spilled 4,500 tonnes of crude oil in the Indian Ocean following a collision with a cargo vessel, the tanker’s owner said.

Mitsui O.S.K. line was hopeful the environmental damage would be limited from the spill, which occurred around 300 kilometers (200 miles) west of India’s Great Nicobar island.

The tanker Bright Artemis was carrying 250,000 tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia and Oman when it collided Monday with a Singaporean ship that was on fire, a company spokesman said.

“The Bright Artemis approached the vessel to try to save people on the vessel, but accidentally the two collided,” the spokesman said. The crew were later rescued by another ship.

The collision ripped through the tanker’s starboard quarter, causing a hole five meters (17 feet) wide and one meter long as strong winds generated three-meter-high waves.

“It is difficult to calculate at this moment but the oil leak may have hit some 4,500 tonnes,” the spokesman said, adding that no one was injured.

After informing Singaporean and Indian authorities of the accident, the 146,463-tonne tanker resumed sailing to Japan as there was no fear of sinking or further oil leakage, the spokesman said.

“Damage to coastlines is expected to be limited as the spilled crude oil was categorized as light oil, which tends to evaporate,” the spokesman said.

“And the remaining oil is largely expected to sink into the seabed within a week,” the spokesman said, adding that the company had no specific measures in place to clean up the leakage.

It may be the largest oil spill accident ever involving a Japanese tanker, Kyodo News said.

Japan, the world’s second largest economy, is heavily dependent on energy imports. Nearly all of its oil comes from the Middle East.

The spilled crude oil was ordered by Japan’s leading oil refiner and distributor, Cosmo Oil.

Share prices in Mitsui O.S.K., Japan’s second-largest shipping company, ended at 808 yen, down 24 yen or 2.88 percent, while those in Cosmo Oil fell 10 yen or 1.85 percent at 530 yen.

The falls were inconsistent with the broader market. The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index fell 0.26 percent but the broader TOPIX index of all first-section stocks rose 0.26 percent on Tuesday.

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