The Christmas Pine Oil Slick

A pine oil slick was heading towards Finland from Sweden across the Gulf of Bothnia. Shortly before Christmas approx. 800 mᵌ of pine oil spilled into the Baltic Sea from the Arizona Chemicals refinery on the eastern coast of Sweden in Sandarne. The Swedish Coast Guard (SCG) deployed their OSR vessels, equipment and personnel and in a single day approx. 140 mᵌ of pine oil was recovered. SCG spokesperson stated that Lamor’s in-built brush skimmers (LORS) fitted on SCG’s vessel KBV 002 were well suited also for this type of oil recovery operations.

An approx. two km long and 600 m wide pine oil slick was heading towards Finland’s western coast. The Finnish Coast Guard deployed YAG Louhi and Linja to tackle the oil slick. YAG Louhi is Finland’s newest OSR vessel equipped with Lamor’s LORS in-built oil recovery system. That said, operations were halted when the OSR vessels encountered hurricane strength winds and heavy seas in the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia. After the storms subsided, the oil slick had dispersed and air surveillance is searching the western coast of Finland for any remnants or signs of the slick.

Pine oil has not been analyzed thoroughly about the risks, but when spilled in these quantities it can threaten eco-systems and wildlife. The oil is used in aromatherapy, as bath scent oils, in cleaning products, etc. The oil is acquired by steam distillation of needles, twigs and cones from a variety of species of pine at refineries such as the Arizona Chemicals refinery in Sandarne which is the largest pine oil refinery in the world.

Text: Thomas Barbieri