The tanker industry recorded 42 shipping accidents in the first half to 2001, over half of which involved collision, fire or explosion and a quarter resulted in pollution, the tanker federation Intertanko said this week.
"While naturally concerned over the 42 incidents, some small satisfaction is taken from the knowledge that the figures for the last six months continued to follow the downward trend of the last few years," Intertanko officials said.
Of the 42 incidents this year that Intertanko compiled from Lloyds casualty reports, 12 were collisions, 11 were fires or explosions and nine were groundings.
Fires and explosions have accounted for just eight percent of incidents over the last 22 years, according to Intertanko figures, so the 11 incidents reported in the first half is an unusually high proportion.
The most recent tanker explosion was the Heng San on June 12, which sank killing four after an immense explosion ripped through its cargo tanks.
There were 41 fatalities in the first half of the year, of which 11 occurred when the Kristal broke apart in heavy seas off Spain in February.
Pollution was caused by 12 of the incidents, the most serious of which was the 2,000 tons of fuel oil spilt when the tanker Baltic Carrier collided with a freighter off the Danish coast in March.
Tanker accidents have been steadily declining over the last decade, according to Intertanko figures.
In 1990, 955 incidents resulted in 49 cases of oil pollution, but last year just 201 incidents occurred 33 of which resulted in pollution.