The causes of oil spills can be divided into two groups: accidents and operations.
There is often a large oil loss in accidents, up to 1/5 have an oil loss of over 700 tonnes.
collisions: a common accident with 475 occurring between 1974-1999
hull failures: these accidents have occurred the most between 1974-1999, with 671 hull failures between these two years
fires and explosions: this is the most uncommon type of accident, only occuring 154 times between 1974-1999
groundings: a common accident with 518 occurring between 1974-1999, and the greatest number of oil losses over 700 tonnes
Most oil losses occur when ships are carrying out routine operations at ports or oil terminals, but the majority of such spills are small, with 93% of them producing a spillage of less than 7 tonnes.
loading/discharging: commonest cause of oil spillages (either during routine operations or resulting from accidents), with 3070 occurring between 1974-1999
bunkering: the least common operational oil loss with only 566 occurring between 1974-1999
Numbers and statistics on this page are from the ITOPF website
Back to Oil main page