GCC urged to stage joint anti-pollution exercises

Dubai Police chief says such exercises imperative to prevent any catastrophe in the oil exporting region

Gulf oil producers need to conduct joint exercises to deal with marine pollution accidents that have become more likely following threats by some parties to strike oil tankers, Dubai’s police chief has said.

Lt. General Dahi Khalfan Tamim said such exercises have become imperative to confront any pollution threat to the oil exporting region before it happens.

Addressing an environment seminar at the Dubai Police Academy on Tuesday, Tamim said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries face the specter pollution because of the spread of tankers in the region and the fact that the Gulf waters are shallow and almost landlocked.

“I call upon regional states to conduct joint exercises on how to face a possible pollution in the Gulf whether it is caused by accident or intentionally especially pollution caused by the explosion of oil tankers,” he said.

“GCC marine environment authorities must prepare in advance to deal with any environmental disaster in the region given the presence of a large number of oil tankers and growing threats from some regional countries or terror groups.”

Tamim said the exercises are needed on the grounds Gulf nations, which control nearly 45 per cent of the world’s oil wealth, should take precautionary measures to face “possible threats before they happen.”

“We should not wait for an environment catastrophe to come in case an oil tanker is struck…we should act now because the Gulf has shallow water and its Hormuz Strait is very narrow….this means any pollution accident will threaten the entire region in the absence of winds to disperse the oil.”

According to the United Nations, the Gulf has become one of the most polluted seas because of massive oil slicks, leakage from crude export terminals, pipelines and oil vessels and recurrent shipping accidents.

Many tankers playing the region have also been reported to be dumping sludge into the water after washing their storage tanks in violation of existing laws.

The problem was complicated by the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, when one of the world’s largest oil slicks of more than eight million barrels hit the Gulf waters.

Retreating Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War also burnt hundreds of the emirate’s oil wells and dumped millions of crude barrels into the sea.

More than 100 oil tankers and other vessels pass through the strategic Hormuz Straits, the only gateway to the Gulf through which nearly 20 per cent of the world’s crude oil supply pass.

Iran has many times threatened to shut the waterway, prompting plans by GCC nations to find other routes for their oil exports to bypass the Straits.

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