BANGKOK – The oil spill that hit Thailand’s popular Koh Samet island appears to be moving to coastal areas of the eastern province of Rayong, threatening to worsen the impact on the Southeast Asia country’s critical tourism industry.
“The crude oil spill in the middle of the sea has an extreme impact on Thailand’s tourism,” Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Phurisrisak told reporters on Tuesday. He estimated that the damage from the oil spill to the tourism industry will be about 100 million baht or about $3.2 million.
A satellite image taken Monday evening showed a film of crude oil spill — which covers an area of about 15 kilometers, or 9.3 miles — was moving northeast of Koh Samet Island, which is about a mile away from coastal areas of Rayong province, according to data from the country’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.
The spill occurred Saturday when oil leaked from an offshore hose. It has been felt by hotels and other parts of the tourism industry in Koh Samet Island, which the oil slick reached Monday. Normally, the island’s pristine waters are filled with bathers and its beaches covered with sun lovers, but some tourists have cut their vacations short due to the spill.
Although most beaches in Koh Samet were not affected by the oil spill, tourists aren’t confident about safety once they see news reports and pictures of the blackened beach, Mr. Somsak said.
About 50,000 liters, or about 50 tons, of crude oil leaked from an offshore hose that belongs to PTT Global Chemical PCL, a subsidiary of the country’s energy conglomerate – PTT Group – on Saturday morning.
Under Thailand’s system, the accident is considered a moderate, category two spill, which includes spills ranging from 20 to 1,000 tons.
The oil spill is Thailand’s third-largest spill, said Pakorn Prasertwong, head of environmental group at the Ministry of Transport’s Marine Department. However, even Thailand’s worst incidents – in 2002 when 240 tons and 210 tons of oil leaked into the Gulf of Thailand – are not close to the level considered major by international standard, Mr. Pakorn said.
Few clicks of Thailand oil spill
Sources: The Wall Street Journal
*Above photos are collected from different resources with a aim to provide a look to the situation of Thailand oil spill. Authors is not claiming any type of authority over the content of this article