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About this book

This volume offers a review of oil inputs to the Mediterranean Sea from sources such as shipping, and offshore exploration and exploitation activities. It discusses international measures to prepare for, respond to, and prevent oil pollution incidents, as well as the international legal framework and agencies with a role in pollution prevention and responses. It includes chapters on modeling the fate of oil pollution, oil spill response, and oil spill beaching probability, and presents data from a range of sources, including historic data on shipping accidents and oil exploration and exploitation activities, satellite and remote sensing data, and numerical modelling data, to provide an overview of oil pollution over several years. Topics covered include modelling of oil slicks in the eastern and western Mediterranean basins, oil exploration and exploitation activities in the waters of the Levantine Basin (Eastern Mediterranean), and signatures to and ratification of the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, for example.

Together with the companion volume Oil Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea: Part II - National Case Studies, it addresses both national and international measures in the region, making it of relevance to the agencies and government bodies tasked with remediating or preventing oil pollution, as well as policymakers and practitioners in the fields of shipping, ports and terminals, oil extraction and marine management. It provides researchers with essential reference material on tools and techniques for monitoring oil pollution, and serves as a valuable resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the field of marine oil pollution.

Table of Contents


Introduction to Part I: The International Context

This book (Part 1 of a volume on Oil Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea) presents a review of knowledge on oil pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, through a series of chapters at an international level. The chapters consider various sources of oil entering the marine environment, activities such as numerical modeling of oil pollution in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean Basins, oil spill beaching probability assessment, and oil spill intervention activities. They also examine legislative measures in place to protect the marine environment of the Mediterranean from oil pollution, including the role of the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention, 1976) and its various protocols, in providing a framework under which nations across the region can work together to cooperate in preventing pollution from ships and from offshore exploration and exploitation activities or in the event of an emergency. The work of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), established under the Barcelona Convention to enhance collaboration and cooperation between national contracting parties, is also examined, including its role in national contingency planning and oil pollution preparedness and response activities. The International Maritime Organization has a role in protecting the Mediterranean Sea and its various regions through the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and its Protocols (MARPOL 73/78 Convention) and sets limits on discharges of oil from ships, while the European Maritime Safety Agency supports oil spill detection activities through satellite surveillance across the region. This book brings together the work of scientists, legal and policy experts, academic researchers and specialists in various fields relating to marine environmental protection, satellite monitoring, oil pollution, and the Mediterranean Sea.
Angela Carpenter, Andrey G. Kostianoy

History, Sources and Volumes of Oil Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea

This chapter presents a brief review of history, sources and volumes of oil pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Historical records show 16 major oil spills occurred between May 1966 and September 2017 and resulted in oil spills ranging between 6,000 and 144,000 tonnes; the largest spill came from the MT Haven tanker after an explosion on board on April 11, 1991. Sources of oil pollution are typical for other seas and include shipping, oil and gas platforms, ports and oil terminals, land-based sources, military conflicts, natural oil seeps and even atmospheric inputs. Shipping activities are the main cause for oil pollution in the Mediterranean Sea while oil and gas production and exploration are not so important, unlike in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caspian Sea. If we exclude major oil spill accidents from ships, which are very rare events in the Mediterranean, different expert reports and estimates provide total volumes of oil pollution ranging from 1,600 to 1,000,000 tonnes per year. The 625 times difference in values means that we still do not know the real volume of oil pollution entering the Mediterranean Sea and this is a big problem that should be addressed.
Andrey G. Kostianoy, Angela Carpenter

Shipping and Oil Transportation in the Mediterranean Sea

This chapter starts by putting oil shipping in a Mediterranean context, with a review of the different ways to transport crude and refined oils in large quantities and over long distances. It then considers the hazards presented by pipelines and tankers, both in terms of the oil market today and how it will probably be in a decade. The chapter then presents the current state of knowledge concerning (1) the ship accidents in the Mediterranean, and (2) operational spills in the region and more broadly. The discussion on operational spills is complemented by an analysis of the possible contribution of satellite imagery to the establishment of both proof of pollution and identification of the polluter. Finally, it appears that the necessary tools to combat operational spills and to deal with large accidental spills exceed the individual capacities of the different countries in the region, rendering international cooperation essential.
Michel Girin, Angela Carpenter

Oil and Gas Exploration and Production in the Mediterranean Sea

This chapter presents a review of knowledge on oil and gas exploration and production in the Mediterranean Sea. Oil and gas production and exploration is not so important in the Mediterranean Sea, unlike in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, or the Caspian Sea, but its history goes back to the early twentieth century when hydrocarbon exploration activities started in Greece. In the Aegean Sea, a small number of significant oil discoveries were made in the mid-1970s at Prinos with production continuing to the present day. Today, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, and the east coast of Italy in the Adriatic Sea, is the location of the majority of oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities. In 2002 it was estimated that there was a reserve of around 50 billion barrels of oil and 8 trillion m3 of gas in the region (about 4% of world reserves) and, in 2005, there were over 350 wells drilled for offshore production in the waters off Italy, Egypt, Greece, Libya, Tunisia, and Spain of which the majority were located along the Northern and Central Adriatic coasts of Italy. In the last decade, there has been serious development of offshore gas fields along the Mediterranean coasts of Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, and Egypt which in the near future will completely change the gas market in this region.
Andrey G. Kostianoy, Angela Carpenter

Oil Spill Intervention in the Mediterranean Sea

It is axiomatic that maritime transportation is essential for international trade. As the global economy and commerce continue to grow, significant pressure falls on maritime transportation. The types of goods conveyed by maritime transportation are innumerable. Oil is one of the transported commodities that rank high among import–export items. Without oil, the world’s energy supply is predicted to slowly run dry and in that instance, the ever-expanding global economy might lose its raison d’être. Marked by its versatile utility, oil supply has been in high demand in the international market for a considerable period of time. Occasionally, oil transportation via tankers does not always go as expected. Even though accidental discharges from incidents such as the Torrey Canyon, Amoco Cadiz, and the Exxon Valdez are considered to be less when compared to other types of vessel-source pollution, those incidents have nevertheless, demonstrated the need for a comprehensive national contingency plan to combat the deleterious effects of oil pollution at sea. Hence, they have been the reason behind the outcry of affected coastal communities and increased public attention to the threat of oil spills.
Although studies show that oil tanker incidents have been declining significantly, accidental spills as a part of the broader “oil spill” regime have been a contentious issue for decades and therefore, the “cause and effect” cannot be overlooked by Coastal States. While operational spills can be regulated through stringent laws and regulations, an accidental spill due to its unpredictable nature cannot be fully regulated by stringent policies. Again, compared to operational spills, the quantity of oil spilled from a single accident can be more than a number of operational spills combined and far more devastating. Researchers are, therefore, leaving no stones unturned to help the shipping industry lower the number and volume of accidental oil spills. While maritime engineers, scientists, and researchers are focusing on technical defects and human errors, governments of Coastal States are trying to develop ways to protect the marine environment through immediate response. More recently, countries within North America are studying an emerging concept related to oil spill immediate response. This modern concept entitled “oil spill intervention” is a combination of first response prior to a spill and rapid response in the immediate aftermath of a spill. In other words, governments are looking at advanced ways of dealing with oil spills, which go beyond the concept of ordinary “oil spill response.” Since the semi-enclosed Mediterranean Sea, bordered by 23 states, consists entirely or primarily of Territorial Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones, an accidental oil pollution incident in any part of the Mediterranean Sea is likely to effect a significant number of States whether they are adjacent, opposite, or located at a far distance. The marine ecology of the semi-enclosed Mediterranean Sea is known to science as unique and there is a limit to how much oil contaminants these sensitive sea areas can absorb. Therefore, the Mediterranean Sea areas are in need of better governmental control and advanced rapid response plans. This is where the national laws of the Mediterranean States and regional cooperation need further scrutiny to confirm whether they contain the required elements of “oil spill intervention.” Furthermore, Mediterranean national measures aimed at preventing, limiting, or responding to oil pollution needs to be cross-examined against the backdrop of status quo international law, which governs immediate response and intervention.
Although there has not been any major maritime oil spill incident within the Mediterranean region, accidents are considered as inevitable occurrences and the risk of one happening in the near future cannot be ruled out. Past incidents have taught us that an oil tanker accident is a force to be reckoned with. So, time not only runs against first responders who jump into immediate action in the aftermath of a maritime incident, but it also runs against the concerned governments of the Mediterranean Sea region. They need to review their current action plans and look into a functional and effective intervention plan before any future occurrence impacts the quality of the marine environment. This review is needed mainly because maritime traffic in the Mediterranean is increasing and the shipping industry will continue to take advantage of the Mediterranean transportation corridor.
Neil Bellefontaine, Patrick Donner, Lawrence Hildebrand, Tafsir Johansson

The International Maritime Organization and Oil Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea

Maritime transportation has diametric personalities. The advancement in global maritime transportation of oil products has resulted in commercial advantages. This advancement has simultaneously led to environmental disadvantages, sporadically leaving the marine environment in a detrimental position. “Commercial advantages” and “environmental disadvantages” are apparently two central issues that emanate from maritime transportation. Although the disadvantages cannot concretely outweigh the advantages, the “pollution” aspect has coastal states, environmentalists, marine biologists, and international organizations worrying whether economic gain is worth destroying the pristine environment. However, some environmentalists are optimistic and state that the marine environment has a form of resistance-capacity and time may heal the human-initiated damage leading to the point where nature will reinstate itself to its original status. However, what has changed today is that with the advancement in global maritime transportation, the impacts on the marine environment are no longer small, localized, and reversible. Incidents both accidental and operational in nature have raised serious environmental concerns. The Mediterranean Sea is no exception to this concern.
Data reveals that maritime activities in the Mediterranean have increased since the late 1900s and this “increase” will reach a higher plateau by 2018. While no major accidents have been recorded so far, the ubiquity, abundance, and broadness of detected operational spills in the Mediterranean have caught the attention of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Hence, the Mediterranean Sea is distinguished as a “special area” and the need to control oil transportation has become a dire need in order to save the region from anthropogenic impacts. Similar to many anthropogenic impacts on natural systems, oil pollution is one that, despite widespread recognition of the problem, is still growing and even if stopped immediately will persist in the marine environment for years to come. Scientists have proven that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a high molecular weight component (compound) of crude oil, are extremely difficult to clean due to its complex structure. The main problem associated with this component is that they cannot be absolutely degraded by bioremediation efforts. Since the rise in the number of maritime transportation is inevitable, to eradicate problems associated with illegal oil discharge, the Mediterranean Sea area has been designated as a “special area.” The question is whether the initiatives of the IMO to establish a “zero discharge policy” are sufficient to control oil pollution in the Mediterranean Sea? This chapter will endeavor to answer that question.
Lawrence Hildebrand, Neil Bellefontaine, Tafsir Johansson

The Barcelona Convention and Its Role in Oil Pollution Prevention in the Mediterranean Sea

An oil spill, whether via dumping from ships and aircraft, from operational or accidental discharge, from land-based sources or from offshore commercial activities, is an event that has been portrayed by both academics and environmental specialists as a form of “disaster” that causes irreparable damage to the marine environment. The Mediterranean region, like other regions of the globe, is considered to have unique marine features that make the region particularly vulnerable to oil pollution, and hence, there is a dire need for a framework that can assist the coastal states to combine their efforts when trying to prevent, abate, combat and eliminate all potential and actual threats from oil pollution. With the burgeoning concern regarding pollution caused by oil and generic substances, the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols appear as a legislative “soft law” tool that has the full potential, if implemented at the national level, to tackle oil pollution from all potential sources. There is a certain cadence in the way the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols have emerged over time, inevitably forming the most appropriate basis for the coastal states of the Mediterranean Sea area to take actions from a platform that can be labelled as “collaborative”. As such, the Barcelona Convention and the Protocols relevant to oil pollution speak to those states as beginning with the notion that efforts to deal with oil pollution need to be combined. They also prescribe how those states can limit and intervene promptly. This prescription is also coupled with a form of recognition that there ought to be a consistent approach when dealing with an element that has a diametric personality, i.e. advantageous when used for operational purposes and disadvantageous when there is a spill. This chapter provides an overview of the Barcelona Convention and proceeds with an incisive examination of the Protocols that provide guidance to states on how to protect and preserve the Mediterranean marine environment from oil pollution.
Angela Carpenter, Tafsir Johansson

The Role of REMPEC in Prevention of and Response to Pollution from Ships in the Mediterranean Sea

With 20% of the global tank ship maritime traffic, and enhanced offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities in the Mediterranean Sea, the risks related to oil pollution, inter alia, from ships are simultaneously increased. Governed by the Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention, REMPEC, in turn, assists Mediterranean coastal states in ratifying, implementing and administering conventions and generally accepted international rules and standards implemented by competent international organisations. The intention is ostensibly clear in so far as REMEPEC’s mission is to play an important role in mitigating all probabilities and possibilities of pollution from ships. In order to remain in the vanguard of action to prevent and reduce pollution from ships, REMPEC has further committed itself to assisting Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention to strengthen preparedness and response capacities through multifarious pragmatic actions, e.g. including remote assistance, on-site assistance, development of contingency planning, development and dissemination of guidelines, training and education and tools. Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the body of general and descriptive literature dedicated to the work of REMPEC. This chapter, however, concentrates on a more specific yet important area. As indicated in the title, this chapter provides an overview of the role of REMPEC pertaining to pollution from ships, with a special focus on oil pollution.
Angela Carpenter, Patrick Donner, Tafsir Johansson

European Maritime Safety Agency Activities in the Mediterranean Sea

The seas and oceans of the EU, together with the more than 12,000 commercial ports located in EU coastal states, play a major role in Europe’s economic security. Its seas and oceans are used to transport of goods and people from within and outside the EU, to produce food from fisheries and aquaculture, and to produce energy from both non-renewable (oil and gas) and renewable (wave, wind) energy sources. In order to protect Europe’s marine and coastal areas, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) plays a significant role in monitoring and protecting those maritime regions from pollution and ensuring the safety and security of ships operating in the region. EMSA has, since its establishment in 2002, developed a broad portfolio of operational and implementation services that it offers to the European Commission and EU Member States. For example, it provides a pollution prevention and response (PPR) service that provides operational assistance in the event of an oil spill at sea. It also provides an earth observation service with satellite-based oil spill detection through its CleanSeaNet (CSN) Service and vessel tracking through its SafeSeaNet (SSN) Service. This enables EMSA to support both identification of pollution at sea and potentially locate the source of that pollution. This chapter provides a broad overview of the activities of EMSA before focussing on specific activities relating to oil pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. It examines the availability of resources, ships and equipment, and different PPR activities taking place in the region. It also examines the availability of satellite imagery as a tool for oil spill detection during the period 2007–2011, for individual EU Member States in the region, together with more general observations post-2011.
Angela Carpenter

Numerical Modeling of Oil Pollution in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

This chapter presents a summary of major applications in numerical oil spill predictions for the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Since the trilateral agreement between Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel back in 1997, under the framework of the subregional contingency plan for preparedness and response to major oil spill pollution incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, several oil spill models have been implemented during real oil pollution accidents and after oil spills that were detected from satellite remote sensing SAR data. In addition, several projects cofinanced by the European Commission addressed particularly issues with oil spill modeling, taking the advantage of developments in operational oceanography, as well as collaboration with the Mediterranean Oceanographic Network for Global Ocean Observing System (MONGOOS), with the European Maritime Safety Agency CleanSeaNet (EMSA-CSN), and Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC). Major oil pollution incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean and the oil spill modeling applications carried out are summarized in this work. Three well-established operational oil spill modeling systems – two of them characterized by different numerical tools MEDSLIK, MEDSLIK II, and the POSEIDON oil spill models – are described in terms of their applicability to real oil spill pollution events, the Lebanon oil pollution crisis in summer 2006, the case Costa Concordia accident, and the spill event associated with the collision of two cargo vessels in the North Aegean Sea in June 2009. Finally, an overview of the present-day capability of Eastern Mediterranean countries in oil spill modeling is provided in this chapter.
George Zodiatis, Giovanni Coppini, Leonidas Perivoliotis, Robin Lardner, Tiago Alves, Nadia Pinardi, Svitlana Liubartseva, Michela De Dominicis, Evi Bourma, Antonio Augusto Sepp Neves

Numerical Modeling of Oil Pollution in the Western Mediterranean Sea

In this chapter we analyze the last 15 years of oil spill numerical modeling applications in the Western Mediterranean Sea. From the literature, around 17 different scientific papers were published between the years 2001–2016 with a focus on this same subject, but using different ocean and atmospheric forecasting systems as well as of weathering and particle tracking models. All the considered applications were classified in relation to the type of adopted numerical tools, the covered area, and the system accessibility. Besides this analysis, a summary of the major oil pollution events that occurred in the Western Mediterranean subbasins and a comparison between the number and the types of numerical applications carried out for each Mediterranean subregions (western, central, and eastern) were reported. Finally, two different operational systems characterized by different numerical tools, the one developed at Meteo-France, the MOTHY system, and the one developed at the Italian National Research Council, the BOOM system, were described in details along with their applications to two pollution events, the Haven accident that occurred in 1991 in the Ligurian Sea and the Porto Torres spill event in 2011 in the Strait of Bonifacio. With this chapter, the authors want also to provide an overview on the capability of the Western Mediterranean countries to respond in case of oil pollution events by adopting oil spill trajectory forecasting systems.
Andrea Cucco, Pierre Daniel

Projects on Oil Spill Response in the Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean Sea is an almost landlocked sea which constitutes just 0.7% of the global water surface. The intense shipping traffic and the recent boom of Oil and Gas exploration activities constitutes the Mediterranean amongst the seas facing the highest risk from oil spills in the world. The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) and the oil spill response activities of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) spearhead a variety of initiatives to protect the Mediterranean against oil related pollution. The European Union has also funded a significant number of projects to support the oil spill response capacity and capabilities in the Mediterranean region focusing mainly on three pillars: monitoring of marine operations and detecting oil spills, developing oil spill dispersion models, strengthening the capacity of oil spill response authorities and developing innovative oil spill combating technologies. The successful implementation of such projects has significantly contributed to the protection of a valuable and sensitive ecosystem such as the Mediterranean Sea.
George Zodiatis, George Kirkos

Oil Spill Beaching Probability for the Mediterranean Sea

In this chapter, different kinds of oil spill beaching maps are proposed for the Mediterranean. These beaching maps can be useful as a complementary tool to vulnerability analysis and risk assessment in the Mediterranean. Firstly, it is defined an oil beaching map for a single point, which is the situation, for example, in the analysis of an oil platform. Next, the oil beaching map is defined for a line, analysing the main route of oil tankers in the Mediterranean. The final oil beaching maps defined show the percentage of particles which reach the coast in an interval of time: one week, two weeks, one month and two months. The information depicted in the maps is based on Lagrangian simulations using particles as a proxy of oil spills evolving according the environmental conditions provided by a hindcast model of the Mediterranean circulation.
J. A. Jiménez Madrid, E. García-Ladona, B. Blanco-Meruelo

Conclusions for Part I: The International Context

This book (Part 1 of a volume on “Oil Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea”) has presented a review of knowledge on oil pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, through a series of chapters presented at the international level. Those chapters consider the history, sources and volumes of oil pollution entering the Mediterranean Sea, including data presented in Part II of the volume in national case studies. It also examines oil inputs from specific sources including shipping and oil transportation and oil and gas production. Chapters in Part I also examine the role of international and regional bodies including the International Maritime Organization and European Maritime Safety Agency, together with activities undertaken for oil spill prevention and intervention under the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention, 1976) and its Protocols, for example. The role of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Region (REMPEC) is considered through its work on a regional strategy for oil pollution prevention and response. Numerical modelling of oil pollution in the eastern and western Mediterranean and oil spill forecasting and beaching probability are also discussed at an international level, complementing the national case studies presented in Part II. By bringing together the work of scientists, legal and policy experts, academic researchers and specialists in various fields relating to marine environmental protection, satellite monitoring, oil pollution and the Mediterranean Sea, these chapters present a picture of oil pollution from a range of sources (shipping – accidental, operational and illegal), offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation, and coastal refineries, and the roles of the various agencies in preparedness and prevention activities, to present a picture of the current situation in the Mediterranean Sea.
Angela Carpenter, Andrey G. Kostianoy


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