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Sharp increase in oil transport in Gulf of Finland
Ships bigger and of better quality than before
An estimated 100 million tonnes of oil will have been transported by sea through the Gulf of Finland by the end of the year. According to a study by the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), annual oil transport is expected to reach 190 million tonnes by the end of the decade.
The increase in oil transport in the Gulf of Finland has been faster than expected. Just a few years ago it was predicted the annual volume of oil transport through the waterway would reach150 million tonnes by 2010.
The increase is generally attributed to the new Russian oil terminals of Primorsk and Vysotsk at the eastern end of the Gulf.
New oil terminals are to be set up on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland in Russia and Estonia, and plans call for increased capacity at existing facilities.
During the past three years the number of ships visiting the oil harbours has doubled. Goods and chemicals transport by sea is also expected to increase.
The oil tankers move in an east-west direction, intersecting with the north-south shipping routes between Finland and Estonia.
Environment experts are concerned about the hazards facing the narrow body of water, which faces rough ice conditions in winter.
The study, by VTT researchers Saara Hänninen and Jorma Rytkönen, was commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment. The two recommend conducting a special risk analysis on oil transport in the area.
Hänninen and Rytkönen examined the ships that stopped at the four main oil terminals on the Gulf of Finland in May this year.
According to the results, development has been positive. The average age of the ships has not increased from the previous sampling taken three years ago, and in Estonia’s Muuga harbour the average age of the ships has declined by more than one third.
Almost all of the ships stopping at Russia’s largest oil terminal of Primorsk are new vessels with a capacity to transport 100,000 tonnes.
There has been an increase in the use of the safer double-hulled vessels. No single-hulled tankers were found in connection with the study, although information was not available on all of the ships from St. Petersburg.