Esso under fire over lethal tanker blast

The efforts of the major oil companies to reassure the public in the wake of the tanker accident in the Shetlands that their own vessels are operated to high standards have been dealt a blow by an inquiry into an explosion on an Esso tanker. The inquiry, by the Department of Transport's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), revealed severe flaws in Esso's maintenance, record-keeping, quality control and contractor supervision procedures.1

The timing of the MAIB's report could not have been worse for the oil majors, which have been arguing that it is the sub-standard tankers operating under flags of convenience which pose the greatest oil pollution risks.

The MAIB's findings are all the more startling in that they involved an Esso vessel. Esso might have been expected to take great care to ensure that its ships were run to high standards in the aftermath of the oil pollutio

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