Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Tuesday, 09 June 2009
The countries of the Middle East Gulf have come together to discuss environmental and safety issues linked to the volume of tanker traffic transiting their coastal waters. The six Gulf states and Iraq, together with ecology experts from Europe, are in Doha for a regional seminar on the safety of tankers carrying hazardous cargoes through the straits.
Organised by Qatar's Ministry of Environment and the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC), the seminar has been described as “timely”.
Qatar's Gulf Times quoted Yousuf Ibrahim al-Hamar, technical affairs manager at the Ministry of Environment saying that “the presence of international experts could contribute to the establishment of specific mechanisms to raise the level of safety”.
The increasing number of tankers carrying oil and gas in the Gulf underlined the importance of tackling the issue through such dialogue sessions, said MEMAC director Captain Abdul Munem al-Janahi.
According to al-Janahi, approximately 41,000 ships passed through the Gulf in 2006 compared to 47,000 in 2007 and 49,000 in 2008.
Al-Janahi specifically pointed out gas tankers and their loading and discharging activities as one area to focus on with regards to potential incidents.
A UN official had last May said that most of the world's maritime oil spills took place in the Middle East Gulf.
Dr Benno Boer, ecological sciences adviser to the Arab World at UNESCO, said 75% of global oil spills happen at the Gulf, and most are easily preventable.
"Such environmental disasters cost the energy sector billions of dollars to clean up, on top of the toll they take on fragile marine communities," said Boer.
According to Boer, tankers that move through the Gulf "routinely leave oil in their wake."
"UNESCO encourages investment on environment protection. I support the idea of oil and gas and other companies having dedicated funds for environment protection as an obligation," he said.
Source: Tanker World