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Oil Spills

  • By: Moshe Inbar
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Oil spills are the release of petroleum into the sea or inland areas and are a major threat mainly to coastal environments. In the past century, there was a notable increase in world population, in general, and in the coastal population in particular. Hence, coastal areas’ vulnerability to oil spills has increased, often to the level of potential natural and human catastrophes.

Oil is mainly exported by maritime traffic from oil-exporting areas, such as the Persian Gulf, Libya and Algeria, Nigeria, and Sudan in Africa to the major oil-importing countries, namely, the United States, Western Europe, Japan, India, and China. In the 1990s, some 3.4 million tons of oil, or 0.01% of the world's total annual oil production—about 3.6 billion tons/year, went into the sea. Approximately, ...

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