Alarm over oil spill risk in English Channel as Putin relies on 23-year-old tankers

Of 4,200 oil tankers in operation of a certain weight, 1,100 have not been inspected in the last three years, according to analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Of these, 600 are at least 20 years old, while 529 do not have a known insurer.

Byron McKinney, director for trade finance and compliance solutions at S&P Global, said these figures are the biggest indicator of a potential oil spill.

The number of global tanker collisions has jumped this year, according to S&P Global, up from 15 in 2022, to 24 so far this year. Already, that is a five-year high despite being just nine months into the year.

Ships transporting oil from Russia’s port of Ust-Luga travel through the North Sea and the English Channel.

Mr McKinney said oil spills are more likely to occur when ships are docking, although he added that rarely do tankers transporting Russian oil call at British ports.

However, he said a spill in the Channel could occur if a vessel experienced an issue onboard while passing through, such as a fire.

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