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Sunday, December 17, 2017

POINTS OF VIEW

Tankers carried about 330m barrels of North Slope crude oil out of Valdez and the Prince William Sound last year and didn’t spill a drop from the load terminal all the way to the ultimate discharge point – apparently a first since tankers began carrying crude from here in 1977.

The local citizen’s advisory council, on occasion a strong critic of the oil industry, nominated four tanker operators (Alaska Tanker Co (carrying for BP), Polar Tankers (carrying for Conoco Phillips), SeaRiver Maritime (carrying for ExxonMobil) and Seabulk Tankers) for a Legacy Award from a U.S./Canadian organisation that works to prevent oil spills. It said in the nomination letter that “a spill-free year is a result of the continued vigilance and commitment by the shippers to transport oil through our waters as safely as possible”. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation calls it “a very notable achievement”.

This AP wire story was published in the Anchorage Daily News and in the Seattle Times. However, it was buried below the crease and right next to the obituaries. This is a great illustration of just how hard it is to secure a prominent place for a ‘good news’ tanker story – which many papers will simply not bother to publish because they deem it not to be newsworthy.

Just imagine the front pages of dozens of heavyweight newspapers that would have blasted this story worldwide if it had been about spilling a record amount of North Slope oil either in Prince William Sound or further afield at the point of discharge.