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Oil Spill Shuts Down Dock at Europe's Second-Largest Port

Authorities at Europe’s second largest port, Antwerp, said on Friday they closed a dock for traffic after detecting late on Thursday afternoon an oil spill that had occurred during a bunkering operation. 

The authorities are using drones to determine the extent of the oil leak and have already begun clean-up operations. A total of 20 ships have been found to have oil on them and they cannot leave the Deurganck Dock until they are cleaned from the oil, the port authorities said.  

Oil was also detected in the shipping channel of the Deurganck Dock.  

The authorities have placed a selective ban on shipping to the Deurganck Dock, and vessel traffic is being diverted away from the Kieldrecht Lock and on through the Kallo lock as much as possible. 

“The situation is causing shipping delays, but the terminals remain operational,” the authorities said in a statement today. 

The port of Antwerp authority has deployed several ships for clean-up operations and is monitoring the situation closely, including via drones. 

“We are doing everything we can to make sure the oil stays locally,” a spokesperson for the Antwerp port authority told Reuters.

The spokesperson could not say how much oil had spilt into the water and could not specify the type of ship from where the oil leaked during the bunkering operation. 

The Port of Antwerp is Europe’s second-largest port after Rotterdam and handles a lot of petroleum and petroleum products as it has huge storage facilities and is part of the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) hub.

ARA is one of the world’s top oil hubs, due to its physical infrastructure, pricing benchmarks, and massive oil consumption. 

Antwerp also has a large number of connections via shortsea, inland navigation, road, and rail between the port and the major chemical and petrochemical sites in Europe. In addition, the chemical cluster at Port of Antwerp-Bruges is the largest in Europe and the most versatile in the world. 

By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com

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