Bunkering related pollution, Gibraltar and Spain

Refueling ships with oil in a low-tax area. Conservationism, ecology, workers and oil industry on a common ring.


Field of Gibraltar is one of the most industrialized areas of Spain. During Franco’s dictatorship, an industrial development plan was approved in 1969, which meant a major change in the ordinary life of Cadiz. Some people thought this change was profitable because of two reasons: economic growth and development of the area.

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Basic Data
NameBunkering related pollution, Gibraltar and Spain
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project Details100.000 ships / year

60.000 download ship to ship

6,5 Millions fuel trasnferred STS
Level of Investment (in USD)168.446.323,6 USD (1969-1980)
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date04/05/1969
Company Names or State EnterprisesVemaoil from Slovenia
Cepsa S.A.U from Spain
Bunkers- Repsol Trading S.A from Spain
Aegean Marine Petroleum from United Kingdom
Repsol from Spain
Relevant government actorsAndalucia Regional Government, Spanish Ministry of enviroment
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersActivistas en Acción (http://ecologistasenaccion.org), AGADEN (jet.es/agaden),GREENPEACE
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Media based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Oil spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseThe practise is still ongoing
Development of AlternativesProposals are being made by Greenpeace is the cessation of the activity completely. In addition to legally combat this activity, the minister Arias Cañete has appealed to the environmental protection of the area through Article 11 of the declaration of Special Area of ​​Conservation (SAC ) , which expressly prohibits the transfer of oil from ship to ship .

Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Nowadays, Bunkering is still being practised. Thousands of discharges fall into the sea and the current regulatory law is not sufficient. The coastal areas of Gibraltar are in danger and the locals suffering the consequences.
Sources and Materials

Article 11 of the statement of Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
[click to view]


CERRILLA VIDA, J. (2011):”El conflicto ambiental en el campo de Gibraltar”. HAOL. Nº 27. Pp. 53-65


Official page of Greenpeace
[click to view]

Ecologistas en acción
[click to view]

[click to view]

Green Guide Spain - The Rock’s Risky Business
[click to view]

[1] El Pais - Las gasolineras flotantes se reducen en el estrecho de Gibraltar
[click to view]

[2] El Mundo - El 'bunkering', en el punto de mira por el conflicto entre España y Gibraltar
[click to view]

EuropaSur - Gibraltar surte de búnker a 469 barcos menos y el negocio crece en Algeciras
[click to view]

El País-El Gobierno endurecerá la sanciones contra el ‘búnkering’ en el Estrecho
[click to view]

Media Links

Video about the environmental conflict
[click to view]

Other Documents

Greenpeace action at Gibraltar Source: http://www.greenguidespain.com/andalucia/2010/06/the-rock%E2%80%99s-risky-business/
[click to view]

Map of bunkering sites Source: http://www.algecirasalminuto.com/index.php/noticias/general/50759-comarca-no-te-escondas--espana-cambiara-la-legislacion-para-sancionar-el-bunkering-en-gibraltar
[click to view]

Other CommentsEn aguas de la Bahía de Algeciras hay cuatro compañías de bunkering con base en Gibraltar: Vemaoil (que vende el 38,5 % del total), con gasolineras flotantes como el "Vemaspirit"; Cepsa (que vende el 30,82 % del total); Aegean Bunkering (el 27,14 %), con gasolineras flotantes como el "Aeolos"; y Bunkers (que vende el 3,49 %), con gasolineras flotantes como el "Jacques Jacob".

Para combatir legalmente esta actividad, el ministro Arias Cañete ha apelado a la protección ambiental de la zona a través del artículo 11 de la declaración de Zona de Especial Conservación (ZEC), que prohíbe expresamente el trasvase de combustible de barco a barco.[2]

El pasado 14 de junio de 2013, la Comisión Europea aceptó una queja de los conservacionistas al considerar que Gibraltar podría estar incumpliendo la norma que protege esta zona por ser de Lugar de Interés Comunitario. Esta declaración supone que se prohíbe expresamente "el fondeo permanente de buques tanque dedicados al suministro de combustible en las aguas comprendidas dentro del espacio protegido". [1]
Meta Information
ContributorManuel Marín Vera / Graduado en historia por la universidad de Granada/ [email protected]
Last update22/10/2015