Investigations are being carried out at Sullom Voe Terminal after the second oil spill this month during a ship to ship transfer operation.
The tanker Perseverance was transferring a light oil known as gas condensate to the tanker Eternal Pride when around five litres of the oil spilt into the harbour.
The incident happened around 9.10am on Thursday. A Sullom Voe pilot boat went to the scene immediately and BP sent a pollution response vessel. The spill has been reported to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and environmental watchdog Sepa.
Head of service at ports and harbours Roger Moore, who is also the harbourmaster, said the spillage had happened during the disconnection process and the light oil had evaporated quickly.
Captain Moore said: “We are in the process of conducting an investigation. We won’t know what happened until we get the full report back. We need to find out what went wrong and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
He declared himself deeply unhappy about the incident, however: “This is two [spills] in a row.”
The two vessels will not be allowed back in the harbour in the meantime. The ice-class ship Perseverance, which is the “mother ship” taking gas condensate from the Russian region, was involved in the previous oil spill earlier this month. Between two and four litres of oil escaped on that occasion.
The spill is deeply unfortunate for the port, which has actively been seeking ship-to-ship transfer business. The transaction earlier this month was the first for eight months and it was hoped they would continue through the winter.