Northern Cyprus Tries to Fight Off Syrian Oil Slick – Naharnet

Sept 1, 2021

An oil slick spreading from a Syrian power plant drew closer Wednesday to the breakaway north of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus despite urgent efforts to stop the spread.

Environmental and transport officials in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) — recognized only by Ankara — said the oil had approached to within 15 nautical miles (28 kilometers) of the divided island’s northeastern tip.

The North’s development and transport minister Resmiye Canaltay said Tuesday that shifting winds had temporarily pushed the fuel back toward Syria.

But the minister added that he still expected at least some of the oil to reach northern Cyprus on Friday.

“There will be major damage to our habitat,” Canaltay told local television.

TRNC environmental officials said up to 20,000 tons of fuel oil had spilled from the Baniyas Thermal Station on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.

They added that marine life was in particular danger because some of the oil had started to solidify and sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Republic of Cyprus — whose overwhelming majority are Greek Cypriots and which has been a European Union member since 2004 — has effective control over the southern two-thirds of the island.

The TRNC government has relied almost exclusively on financial and other assistance from Ankara since breaking away in 1974.

Turkey has sent two ships to the region to help contain and recover the oil.

Local officials also planned to send out drones to survey the affected area and assess where it might reach the shore.

Officials in war-torn Syria have provided few details about what may have caused oil to start leaking from the fuel oil-operated plant last week.

Syria’s electricity minister had told a pro-government newspaper Monday that the size of the leak ranged from two to four tons of fuel.

Source Agence France Presse

Huge Oil Spill From Syrian Power Plant Spreads Across Mediterranean Coast – AP (Haaretz)

Satellite images show the leak spreading some 20 kilometers north of its source, and authorities say ​work is underway to clean the coast in the rocky areas

A sattelite photo showing the oil spill off the coast of Baniyas, Syria
A sattelite photo showing the oil spill off the coast of Baniyas, SyriaCredit: Planet Labs Inc./

AP The Associated Press Aug. 25, 2021

A massive oil spill caused by leakage from a power plant inside one of Syria’s oil refineries is spreading along the coast of the Mediterranean country, Syria’s state news agency said and satellite photos showed Wednesday.

SANA said the spill reached the coastal town of Jableh, about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) north of the refinery in the town of Baniyas, adding that Syria’s environment department and the municipality of the coastal province of Latakia have placed all concerned departments on alert. It said work is underway to clean the coast in the rocky areas.

A day earlier, Syria’s government said that maintenance teams at Baniyas Thermal Station had brought a fuel leakage from one of the tanks under control.

Satellite images from Planet Labs Inc. on Wednesday showed what appeared to be a massive 19-kilometer-long spread oil spill from the Baniyas plant. An image from Monday showed no sign of the slick, suggesting whatever happened to cause the spill happened later.

The head of the Electricity Workers Syndicate at Tartous Workers Union, Dawoud Darwish, blamed cracks in one of the fuel tanks at the thermal station. He pointed out that the tank was filled with 15,000 tons of fuel.

Syria’s oil resources are mostly outside of government controlled areas, but its two refineries are under government control and operating. This makes Damascus reliant on Iran for fuel, but U.S. Treasury sanctions have hindered the supply network, which spans Syria, Iran and Russia.

There has been a series of mysterious attacks on vessels in Mideast waters, including off Syria’s coast, for over a year. They have come amid rising tensions in the region between Iran, Israel and the United States.

In May, Syria’s foreign minister blamed Israel for mysterious attacks targeting oil tankers heading to Syria, saying they violate international law and will not go unpunished.