The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

January 15, 2015 06:32 ET

The Fraser Institute: Despite Dramatic Increase in Oil Tanker Traffic, Number of Oil Spills has Significantly Decreased

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Jan. 15, 2015) - Despite a dramatic rise in worldwide oil tanker traffic since the 1980s, the number of oils spills has dropped significantly, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Energy Transportation and Tanker Safety in Canada, spotlights oil tanker traffic worldwide and in Canadian waters.

"A dramatic increase in the amount of oil shipped by sea has coincided with a dramatic drop in the amount of spilt oil, which is great news for marine wildlife and ecosystems," said Kenneth Green, senior director of the Fraser Institute's Centre for Natural Resources.

Internationally, between 1985 and 2010, aquatic transport of oil nearly doubled, while the number of oil spills (in excess of 700 tonnes) declined sharply.

Moreover, of all the seaborne oil spilled (by volume) worldwide over the past four decades, 56 per cent was spilled in the 1970s while only 3.7 per cent was spilled between 2000 and 2009.

In Canadian waters, the number of major tanker oil spills per decade dropped from 18 in the 1980s, to six in the 1990s, to zero between 2000 and 2004.

And yet, some activists and politicians want to restrict and/or ban tanker traffic in Canadian waters. Those attempts, notes the study, seem to ignore the facts.

The shipping industry boasts an exceptional safety and environmental record, making it the most cost-effective, efficient and environmentally-friendly way to transport Canada's energy resources to Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

The study also notes that banning and/or restricting oil tanker traffic will jeopardize Canada's economy. World energy demand is booming, and fossil fuels will continue to dominate the global energy supply.

Tankers connect Canada's abundant natural resources with overseas energy markets. To ensure market access, and the subsequent economic growth and prosperity, safe and responsible oil tanker traffic should be encouraged.

"Canada is one of the very few developed countries able to capitalize on its abundant natural resources, and using tankers to transport energy resources to overseas markets remains vital for Canada's growth and prosperity," Green said.

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

Contact Information

  • Media Contact - The Fraser Institute
    Dr. Kenneth P. Green
    Senior Director, Energy and Natural Resources
    Office: (403) 216-7175 ext. 426 or Mobile: (403) 620-0703

    The Fraser Institute
    Mark Hasiuk
    Media Relations Specialist
    (604) 688-0221 ext. 517