REMPEC responds to incident in Tunisia – Apr 28, 2022

(This page will be updated regularly to reflect the latest information available to REMPEC, a Regional Activity Centre of the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan ) 

The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC)—administered by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in cooperation with the Mediterranean Action Plan of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/MAP)—has been informed by the Tunisian competent authority of the incident in which an oil tanker, XELO, carrying 750 tons of diesel was shipwrecked on 16 April 2022 in the Gulf of Gabès, about 7 km off the south-eastern coast of Tunisia. The tanker is currently at a depth of 20 meters below sea level. The Tunisian authorities have activated the national emergency plan for the prevention of marine pollution.

Measures taken by REMPEC (under the Barcelona Convention and its Prevention and Emergency Protocol, 2002)

  • REMPEC offered the Centre's assistance and expertise to the Government of Tunisia, and provided guidance for request of assistance and communication with neighbouring countries, in line with established procedures and guidelines.
  • Cedre, a member of the Mediterranean Assistance Unit, was contacted by REMPEC, and is on standby for a possible mobilization in Tunisia, if so requested by the Tunisian Government.
  • The UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), based in Tunis, offered the Centre's assistance and expertise on aspects related to biodiversity protection.
  • REMPEC communicated to the Government of Tunisia the offers of assistance that have already been received from neighbouring countries.
  • REMPEC mobilized expert for support on claims and compensation, the expert from ITOPF will be deployed in Tunis from 25 to 29 April 2022.

  • REMPEC provided Tunisian authorities on 19 April with prediction simulating the movement oil in case of total loss of the cargo and bunker oils and on 20 April with satellite image showing layer of oil around area of the wreck to facilitate to local authorities the detection of the spills. These were produced by the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change (CMCC), member of the Mediterranean Assistance Unit.

  • On April 22nd , the Tunisian competent authority informed REMPEC that the prospection made by the Tunisian and Italian navy turned  out that the tanks of the ship do not contain diesel or any other substance and fully filled mainly with sea water, and therefore there is no me risk of pollution of the environment. In the coming days, efforts will be devoted to recovering the sunken and abandoned ship after completing the legal procedures.