Syrian oil slick spreads across the Mediterranean Ocean, alarming neighboring nations

An oil slick that originated from a power plant on Syria’s Mediterranean coast has spread and alarmed the island nation of Cyprus.

Authorities in Cyprus island are monitoring the leak and expansion.

The Syrian media reported the oil spill from the plant, which is inside the Baniyas oil refinery.

Satellite imagery showed that the slick spread north along the Syrian coast before moving westwards towards Cyprus.

Modelling suggests that it would reach Karpas Peninsula in the Turkish-controlled north on Tuesday.

The prime minister of north the said said it was taking all measures to prevent the slick causing damage and was receiving assistance from Turkey.

The Cypriot government said it was ready to provide help if requested.

The Syrian government revealed last Tuesday an accidental leak from a fuel tank at the Baniyas thermal power station.

The following day, Syria’s state-run Sana news agency reported that the slick had reached the town of Jableh, about 20km to the north.

Syrian officials downplayed the scale of the spill as the clean-up continued over the weekend, with the head of the General Directorate of Syrian Ports telling state TV that the quantity of fuel that leaked “was not large”.

The Cypriot government issued a warning about the slick on Monday in response to new satellite imagery showing that it had grown in size and was close to Cape Apostolos Andreas.

The cape is the north-eastern most point of the Karpas Peninsula, which is in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and is about 130km from Baniyas.

The Cypriot fisheries and marine research department said the slick appeared to be “oil sheen” rather than crude oil, and that computer modelling and meteorological data suggested it would affect the cape within 24 hours.

Steps had been taken to inform authorities in the north and the government was “ready to respond and provide assistance if requested”, it added.

The TRNC’s Prime Minister, Ersan Saner, said the spill’s progress was being followed closely by his office and all relevant ministries and organisations in co-operation with Turkey, which is the only country to recognise the north as an independent state.

“No-one should doubt that whatever is necessary will be done to prevent our country from being harmed by this spill,” Mr Saner added.