Facts and figures

In a study on the sources of oil spills, the US National Academy of Sciences provides the following statistics on spills due to oil tankers:
- 1973: 200,000 t (3.4% of total discharge)
- 1981: 400,000 t (12.3% of total discharge)
- 1989: 114,000 t (unknown % of total discharge)
- 2000: 162,000 t (6% of total discharge).

With the exception of 1989, these quantities do not represent the actual spill volumes for the year displayed, but rather are averages over each 8-year period, taken from annual statistics provided by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd (ITOPF).

The data gives us an accurate picture of the extent of spills, including the parts which evaporated or burnt.

Pollution caused by the Haven spill, Italy



Pipelines as targets

Colombia: repeated sabotage

The 700 km long Colombian pipeline put into operation in 1985 between Caño Limon and Covenas, near the Venezuelan border, seemingly holds the world record for sabotage by guerrilla warfare. By the end of 1997, it had suffered 495 attacks, causing spills totalling an estimated 145,000 tonnes. In 1999, the 46th explosion of the year caused a spill in the Limon River, causing several tens of cubic metres of oil to flow downstream to Venezuela. In 2001, a renewal of guerrilla warfare resulted in no less than 117 spills during the first 8 months of the year.

Iraq: one sabotage attack amongst others

On 14 September 2004, saboteurs attacked a location where several pipelines met to cross the Tigris River near the city of Beiji, 250 km north of Baghdad. The burning crude oil escaping from the fractured pipelines ran downhill into the river. It took 3 days to control the fire. The attack occurred just as technicians had finished repairing two valves damaged by a previous explosion.

Massive arrival of pollutant on the shoreline