Port officials at Fujairah in the UAE announced on 5 April that they were calling in international experts in an effort to avert a major environmental disaster in the lower Gulf after a 31 March tanker collision spilled an estimated 16,000 tonnes of Iranian light crude.
The incident, which occurred in good weather outside the Strait of Hormuz, involved the Panamanian-registered supertanker Seki and the UAE-owned tanker Baynounah. The fully laden Seki was carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude to Japan, when the collision ruptured one of its tanks. The 57,000- tonne Baynounah was in ballast.
Following the accident, an investigation was immediately launched into the causes of the collision and a team from the Greek anti-pollution company Fairdeal sent to the scene to control the oil slick. Six days after the incident, Fairdeal executives reported that only 10 per cent of the spilled had been recovered. The rest had either been washed up along a 40-kilometre stretch of the UAE coastline or remained in large patches up to 32 kilometres out to sea.