August has been a very bad month for the ocean, having been battered by oil spills, explosions, and poorly regulated shipping.
While the eyes of the world were first shocked by the explosion on 4 August in Beirut Port from poorly stored Ammonium Nitrate being carried by a Moldovan-flagged vessel, and then the massive oil spill on 6 August in Mauritius by a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned iron ore ship that split apart against a coral lagoon, Venezuela was experiencing its own major oil spill which officials first started detecting on 2 August.
It was a bunker fuel oil spill (same as Mauritius) and has now been estimated at being twice the size as the one in Mauritius. The cause was not immediately obvious and satellite data suggests the leak either came from a Portugal-flagged vessel or an oil pipeline close to a petroleum hub in the region.
This is the second time Venezuela has experienced a major oil spill in the last year, following over 1500 miles of Brazil’s beaches experiencing over 2000 tons of heavy engine oil in September. That spill was suspected to come from a Greek-flagged vessel, which, incidentally also uses shipping lanes close to Mauritius. At the time, it was shown that 600 tons of oil could easily be leaked within 30 minutes of a ship transfer gone wrong.