Tanker spills 1000s of tonnes of crude oil off Nicobar Islands

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Approximate location of the incident (shown by red dot), 470 km west of Great Nicobar Island

A Japanese tanker has spilled an estimated 4,500 tonnes (1.4 million gallons) of crude oil in the eastern Indian Ocean, after colliding with a cargo ship, which it was trying to assist, the tanker's owners report.

A statement released by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd, the owners of the tanker, Bright Artemis said that the tanker was attempting to rescue the crew of the distressed Singapore-registered cargo ship, Amar, when the two vessels came in contact about 470 km (290 miles) west of the Great Nicobar Island in the Indian Ocean at 1:00 p.m., (3:00 p.m. JST) on Monday. The collision opened a gash 1 meter in height and 5 meters in length on the single-hulled tanker's starboard side, spilling its crude oil cargo. The statement said that the spill has been contained, the crew of the Amar are safe on board another rescue vessel and no other injuries have been reported.

The tanker reported the location of the incident as 5'46"N, 89'04"E and the cargo ship Amar was on fire when the incident happened, said the statement. It added that oil has been transferred from the damaged tanks to other tanks, the tanker is proceeding east at a reduced speed and that the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore and the Indian Coast Guard have been informed of the incident.

The Bright Armetis was manned by a crew of 23 including Croatians, Filipinos and a Canadian and was carrying close to 250,000 tonnes of crude oil from the Persian gulf to Japan, according to the company.

Indian Coast Guard officials told Reuters news agency that the spill lies outside India's exclusive economic zone and that they are watching the situation closely.

Bloomberg reports that shares of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. fell as much as 4.3% upon news of the event. Mitsui is Japan's second-largest shipping company.