Major oil spills in marine environments can have serious biological and economic impacts. The general public, media, etc. will have great interest in this type of issue and want to know the extent of the problem, the volume spilled and much more.
To estimate the impact that could possibly occur is fundamental for an efficient response and to describe the incident to the public. In most cases the media will sensationalise the problem but will never report how good the cleanup went. Good news does not sell newspapers.
The total amount of hydrocarbons in the seas of the world from the souces below is approx. 3.2 Million m3 per year. These figures can change as in 1991 when the Iraqies set fire to hundreds of oil wells in Kuwait, of course that year the amount in the atmosphere was considerably more.
Industrial and urban discharges 37% Natural 7%
Exploration and production 2%
Other shipping accidents 33%
Putting things into perspective worldwide there are approx. 3,500 tankers available for the transportation of oil, approx 35.5 billion m3 of oil are shipped each year by tankers. Major tanker incidents always hit the news and are a major problem when they happen. The fact still remains that the quantity of oil from land based sources are still considerably higher than the major tanker accidents.
Many spills from tankers are difficult to estimate by the crew in the first place, what is known is the type of oil and the amount in the affected tank or tanks but dependent on where the hole is and how big it is depends on how much has leaked or will leak. Oil well blowouts are also difficult to calculate and events like the spill that occurred during the Gulf war of 1991 still has no definite quantity, estimates put it over 1 million cubic meters which makes it the largest deliberate oil spill ever.
The development of monitoring technologies and remote sensing has made better observation possible, frequently in real time, assisting with the actions for oil spill operations. Being able to determine what measures should be taken in order to minimise the impact of the incident on the environment and society is paramount.
The main problem is not the big news catching oil spills it is the small everyday spills as in the photo right, here we have a fishing boat pumping its bilges into the sea it is obvious from the photo that this has happen on at least one occasion before by just looking at the black line on the right hand boat which was at the water line during the last event. This type of spill is small but is happening every day somewhere in the world. It also shows the mentality of a fisherman who pollutes the very environment he uses for his livelyhood.