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A new threat to the coral reef?

January 17, 2008

For that last decade or so, the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) has been working at a reduced rate.  But now a new plan is emerging, to pump oil transported from Turkey through Ashkelon to Eilat and from there to East Asian ports via the Red Sea.  This Haaretz article has all the juicy oily details:

The oil would be pumped in Georgia and Azerbaijan, and be brought to Turkey by pipeline. From Turkey it will be shipped by tanker to Ashkelon, whence it would be transported by pipeline to Eilat. In Eilat, the oil will be be loaded onto a new set of tankers for transportation to eastern Asia. 

How big will the tankers be?

The EAPC aims to reach a final agreement on establishment of a regular transport line with leased 250,000-ton tankers (“shuttles”) moving the oil between Turkey and Israel, and 280,000 to 320,000-ton tanker shuttles used to transport through the Red Sea to the east. Shipment through the Suez Canal is limited to tankers with a maximum capacity of 130,000 tons.

With oil spills seeming to happen quite often lately (San Francisco Bay and the Black Sea popped into our head immediately), this makes us nervous.  And the EAPC had a pipeline break just a few months ago between Ashkelon and Haifa.  One decent sized oil spill in the Gulf of Eilat and that could be it for the reefs.  Pollution has always been a problem in the Gulf of Eilat due to it’s mellow waters, making it much slower to self-clean.   An oil spill?  Well, we just don’t want to think about it.

Be sure that we are watching this issue closely and we’ll keep you updated on any new events.

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