Tankers to be banned from oil transfers

THE Government is about to take action to stop the transfer of oil between ships off the Suffolk coast.

Graham Dines

THE Government is about to take action to stop the transfer of oil between ships off the Suffolk coast.

Since the start of the recession, fully laden tankers have been moored in the North Sea at an anchorage between Southwold and Lowestoft, waiting for the price of oil to rise.

Sightseers during the summer have been able to observe clearly the shipping movements and boat enthusiast have chartered craft to go near the anchored vessels to photograph and study the transfer of oil.

As the price fluctuates, smaller tankers have gone alongside the giant oilers and the cargoes are discharged and taken to refineries.

There is also a problem with large tankers not being able to access ports in northern Russia and much of the oil being offloaded is being shipped to the Arctic ports.

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Following the intervention of Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has promised he will insist that any future transfer of oil must be done in a port.

Mr Gummer said last night: “Transferring oil between ships at anchor off the coast is not a safe operation. It could lead to spill which would have a devastating impact on the coastline and coastal communities of Suffolk.

“Transfers will soon have to be undertaken in ports, which could bring extra business for both Felixstowe and Lowestoft. Any ports which apply to carry out this operation must have in place proper protection measures to ensure that any marine accidents do not have serious effects on the coastal belt.”

Mr Gummer said: “We have successfully persuaded Lord Adonis that the operations in the North Sea are a threat to Suffolk. He accepts that the risk of accidental spills is too great a threat to the marine environment and the coastline.”

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