Four tons of crude oil spilled into the Baltic Sea from the Butinge
off-shore oil terminal on December 6, the first major
environmental accident at the facility since it opened this year.
The mishap occurred at night as oil was being pumped into
a Bahraini-registered tanker, the Almanama, in heavy seas;
strong wind and waves buffeted the ship, causing the pumping
hose to break, official said.
The Butinge terminal is located in the open sea, about 8
kilometers from the Lithuanian coast and very close to the
An oil slick headed towards the Latvian coast, though it
was apparently broken up by the stormy seas before it could
cause serious environmental damage.
Lithuania opened the new, state-of-the-art oil terminal
in July, hoping it would help it establish itself as a major
transit point for Russian oil bound for Western markets -
challenge Latvia's dominance in the oil-transit sector.
But Latvia has long complained the Butinge terminal was a
major environmental hazard that -- because of wind and
sea-current patterns -- threatened Latvia's coast more than Lithuania's.
Latvian officials expressed anger about the Butinge
accident, saying it confirmed their worst fears.