Satellites Track Oil Spills During C-19 Shutdown

Satellite In Space

Satellites Track Oil Polution

As a proud supplier of provisions, equipment and parts to vessels bound for South African ports, the Link Ship Chandlers team has been only too aware of the impact various levels of COVID-19 shutdowns have had on the shipping trade around the world. However, we are happy to report that the effects of the pandemic have not only been negative – it has also spurred on innovation in the most unexpected way.

Oil pollution is one of the most destructive forms of marine contamination, and while the shipping trade may have quietened down considerably as a result of lockdown measures that have been put in place by governments around the world, it has also meant that physical surveillance of potentially polluting ships has been curtailed to an alarming degree.

Fortunately, necessity is the mother of invention, and industry stakeholders like Interpol and coast guards have been hard at work finding innovative ways to amp up the use of satellites to monitor illicit discharges from a remote location without the need for actual human intervention.

Juan Peña Ibáñez is the CEO of Orbital EOS, a company that provides satellite-based solutions to challenges in the maritime domain, like environmental performance monitoring and coastal erosion. According to him, studies have proven that while monitoring may seem futile on the surface, it actually has a major deterrent effect if potential polluters are aware that surveillance is in place. As such, the chances of offences are also much higher when polluters know that surveillance is stymied by the movement of physical monitoring teams.

According to Ibáñez, the answer lies in satellite monitoring, which gives interest groups at the helm of projects like the Oil Spill Early Detector (OSED) project the ability to draw on the capabilities of high-tech satellites that can see through cloud cover and at night, as well as providing information on when an oil discharge occurs and how much oil was spilt.

The good news is that this technology already exists and that the limitations of movement that resulted from global COVID-19 shutdowns have inspired oil companies and other industry stakeholders to reach out to companies like Orbital EOS for assistance in this regard. Read more here.

Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks and months for fascinating insights on the development of the global shipping trade. In the meantime, we invite you to contact our team if you would like more information on the services we provide from the ports in Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Coega, Durban and Richards Bay.


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