Spanish authorities at the port of Ceuta on the southern side of the Strait of Gibraltar declared contained what they believe was the largest oil spill in the port’s history. The spill came from a crack in the hull of a Turkish-owned product tanker that is now being detained and facing stiff fines.

The port captain for Ceuta, one of only two Spanish ports in Africa and a vital link in Mediterranean traffic, told reporters they received a report of an oil leak from the product tanker K Onset (12,900 dwt) on Tuesday evening, April 30, and they immediately mobilized a containment effort. Within about two hours he said the leak had been contained. They deployed two containment booms and one absorbent boom. 

The Liberia-flagged tanker managed by Chemfleet of Turkey arrived on April 30 from the Spanish port of Vilagarcia and was conducting a fueling operation. The latest estimate is that the vessel leaked between 25,000 and 30,000 liters of a light marine fuel from a crack that measured 32 centimeters (approximately 12.5 inches) in one of the fuel tanks. Westerly winds helped to contain the spill and throughout the day on Wednesday, teams could be seen with absorbents mopping up the fuel. The port captain believes at least 85 percent of the spill was recovered.

The K Onset is now being detained at the port and it has been ordered to pump all the fuel from the cracked tank. The port captain said the tank would be vented and then examined and that they would require repairs before the vessel departs.

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In addition, the port is demanding a deposit of €72,000 ($77,000) consisting of €60,000 in fines and €12,000 toward the clean-up costs. The final fine is yet to be determined but media reports said it will be at least €200,000 to €250,000, ($214,000-$267,000) with one report saying it could reach a half million euros. 

The vessel was cited in December 2023 for 18 deficiencies during a Port State inspection in the UK. Among the items identified were hull corrosion as well as issues with propulsion and other structural condition issues. However, the vessel was not detained.

Port officials in Ceuta acknowledged that this was the third incident this year although noting the prior two events were much smaller. Media reports said in mid-February, a Panama-flagged Ro-Ro cargo vessel, Lider Trabzon (7,225 dwt) had to pay €136,000 ($145,000) after another oil spill. Last week, a general cargo ship registered in Gibraltar, Schillplate (3,175 dwt) also caused a small spill in the port.

Source: The Maritime Executive 


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