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ENGINE: Algoa Bay closure spurs surge in bunker calls at nearby ports

Bunker demand has increased in Mozambique’s Nacala and Maputo ports as bunkering remains completely shut off in Algoa Bay, a source says.




Algoa Bay MarineTraffic / Bernd Bölscher

Ships sailing by Algoa Bay are forced to seek bunkers elsewhere as bunker operations remain suspended.

With Algoa Bay temporarily inaccessible for bunkering, ships being diverted to alternative ports in its vicinity to bunker.

Bunker demand has increased in Mozambique’s Nacala and Maputo ports as bunkering remains completely shut off in Algoa Bay, a source says. Ships are also seeking bunkers at other South African ports such as Durban and Cape Town.

VLSFO and LSMGO availability has remained steady so far in Durban, but availability could tighten there going forward because of the Algoa Bay crisis, a source says.

Some bunker buyers are still booking stems for deliveries in Algoa Bay in late October. They anticipate that bunkering could resume by that time, a port agent tells ENGINE. As of now, both onshore and offshore bunkering remain suspended, the port agent adds.

The reputational damage from the South African authority crackdowns could be immense. Even if the current issue is resolved and bunker operations resume, there may be lingering perceptions of Algoa Bay as a problematic location for bunkering, another source argues.

"Once bitten, twice shy," it says.

Algoa Bay bunkering has faced hightened scrutiny after the South African Revenue Service (SARS) detained bunker barges over import duty disputes earlier this month.

By Nithin Chandran

Manifold Times previously reported South African Revenue Service (SARS) issuing a media statement concerning the detention of five vessels involved in the fuel bunkering supply chain. 

Related: South African Revenue Service issues media statement on detention of bunkering vessels
Related: ENGINE: Algoa Bay bunkering at a standstill as authority detains barges – sources

Source: ENGINE
Photo credit: MarineTraffic / Bernd Bölscher
Published: 2 October, 2023

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Bunker Fuel

Allianz: ‘Shadow fleet’ of tankers involved in at least 50 incidents including oil spills

Vessels have been involved in at least 50 incidents to date, including fires, engine failures, collisions, loss of steerage, and oil spills; shadow tankers also participate in ‘dangerous practice of STS transfers in the open ocean’.





RESIZED Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash

Allianz Commercial marine experts shared some of the major consequences of growing volatility and uncertainties from war and geopolitical events, climate change risk, including the threat the rise of the ‘shadow fleet’ poses to vessels and the environment and the multi-faceted impacts of rerouting. 

The following are excerpts from the original expert risk article by insurer Allianz :

Recent incidents in the wake of the conflict in Gaza have demonstrated the increasing vulnerability of global shipping to proxy wars and disputes. Between November 19, 2023, and the beginning of April 2024, there were more than 50 attacks against merchant shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi militants in response to the conflict. We have also seen the first total loss of a vessel, the first fatal attack, as well as signs that the crisis may have spread following the seizure of a container ship by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important chokepoint for oil shipping. The Houthi military group has also warned it would target any ships heading to Israeli ports if they are within range.

Disruption to shipping has persisted longer than expected and is likely to remain for the foreseeable future, says Captain Rahul Khanna, Global Head of Marine Risk Consulting, Allianz Commercial. “While we have seen sporadic attacks in the past, the conflict in Gaza has opened the flood gates. Even if a political solution is reached, we may see attacks continue as there is clearly now an opportunity for those wishing to disrupt shipping in the Red Sea and beyond. Ultimately, shipping has become a ripe target for those wishing to wage a proxy war. It opens avenues for terrorists or militia groups to get recognition and hit global markets.”

Rerouting brings supply chain, trade, risk, inflation, and environmental challenges

Attacks against shipping in the Red Sea and Middle East waters, closely following on from the ongoing disruption caused by drought in the Panama Canal, have amounted to a double strike for shipping, causing yet more issues for global supply chains, as well as significantly adding to the distance vessels must sail.

The attacks in the Red Sea have severely impacted Suez Canal transits, while a lack of rain and the El Nino phenomenon contributed to the second driest year in the Panama Canal’s history, also affecting transits.  Both routes are critical for the transport of manufactured goods and energy between Asia, Europe, and the US East Coast.

At the start of 2024 transits in the Suez and Panama canals were down by more than 42% and 49% respectively, compared to their peaks. Whichever route vessels take, they face lengthy diversions and increased costs. For example, avoiding the Suez Canal adds at least 3,000 nautical miles and 10 days sailing time to each trip, rerouting via the Cape of Good Hope.

Businesses that source goods and components from factories in China and South-East Asia have faced delays and higher costs from longer transit times. Some reported rises of 300% for container hire, and logistical delays, adding up to three to four weeks to delivery times, creating cashflow difficulties, and component shortages on production lines.

Such experiences have thrown the shipping industry and the issue of supply chain resilience into the public consciousness, says Khanna.

“Supply chains have been disrupted by a series of events in recent years, from extreme weather and climate incidents, container ship fires and groundings, through to the pandemic and conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, not forgetting the recent Baltimore bridge collapse.

“How should the shipping industry and its customers address this challenge? In today’s interconnected environment it is even more important to have a ‘Plan B’ and alternative options. An unexpected event can have a domino effect globally. Shippers around the world should consider diversification of their supply chains and in some cases nearshoring and onshoring might be an option.”

Increased transparency is also part of the solution, particularly when it comes to tracking cargo. While the global risk environment for shipping has changed significantly in recent years, the average shipper still knows very little about the location of their cargo, which makes it very difficult for them to put effective contingency plans in place to minimize disruption. Ultimately businesses will need to update their approach to cargo risk management and business continuity planning, says Régis Broudin, Global Head of Marine Claims, Allianz Commercial.

Rerouting will also require a shift in the shipping industry supply chain, if large numbers of vessels switch to alternative routes around the Cape of Good Hope for a prolonged period. Container lines tend to ply the same established trade routes, but rerouting will require alternative bunkering, supply, repair, and maintenance facilities. The risk environment could be impacted suggests Wayne Steel, Senior Marine Risk Consultant, Allianz Commercial. For example, storms and rough seas could be more challenging for smaller vessels used to plying coastal waters, especially where crews may not be sufficiently trained and equipped for such conditions.

Other areas impacted include container capacity, older vessels being kept in service as longer journeys means an increasing demand for ships, inflation – according to Allianz Trade analysis, a prolonged period of disruption in the Red Sea could cause it to increase by +0.5% – as well as the environment. The disruption in the Red Sea, combined with factors linked to the Panama Canal and the Black Sea in the wake of the Ukraine war, could erode the environmental gains achieved through ‘slow steaming’, as rerouted vessels increase speeds to cover longer distances. The longer distances caused by rerouting container ships from the Suez Canal to the Cape of Good Hope result in an estimated 70% increase in greenhouse gas emissions for a round trip from Singapore to Northern Europe. Shipping diversions from the Red Sea are already cited as being a primary cause of a 14% surge in the carbon emissions of the EU shipping sector during the first two months of 2024.

Ukraine war: ‘shadow fleet’ risk to vessels and environment

A gradual tightening of international sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports over the past three years since its invasion of Ukraine has resulted in the emergence of a sizable ‘shadow fleet’ of tankers, mostly older vessels that operate outside international regulation and often without proper insurance. This situation presents serious environmental and safety risks in key chokepoints where oil is shipped.

Russia is not the only country to operate a shadow fleet. Iran and Venezuela have used such tankers to circumvent sanctions and maintain oil exports. Estimates put the size of the dark fleet at between 600 to 1,400 vessels, roughly a fifth of the overall global crude oil tanker fleet.

Much of the shadow fleet is likely poorly maintained and may not have undergone appropriate inspections. Shadow tankers also participate in the dangerous practice of ship-to-ship transfers in the open ocean, as well as turning off Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders to obscure their identity. Vessels have been involved in at least 50 incidents to date, including fires, engine failures, collisions, loss of steerage, and oil spills. The cost of dealing with these incidents often falls on governments or other vessels’ insurers if one is involved in an incident.

“As long as there are sanctions on countries like Russia and Iran, the shadow fleet looks here to stay,” says Justus Heinrich, Global Product Leader Marine Hull, Allianz Commercial. “Given the age of the vessels in the shadow fleet, safety is a big concern. Often these vessels are at the end of their operational lives and are used in a high-risk business.”

Note: The full article by Allianz can be found here


Photo credit: Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash
Published: 20 May 2024

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US: Barge crashes into Pelican Island Causeway in Texas

US Coast Guard received a report at 9.48 am reporting a 321-foot barge, MMLP 321, allided with the Pelican Island Causeway; MMLP 321 was reported to be carrying 30,000 barrels of vacuum gas oil.





US: Barge crashes into Pelican Island Causeway in Texas

The US Coast Guard on Wednesday (15 May) said it was coordinating with local, state, and federal agencies in response to the Pelican Island Causeway allision in Galveston, Texas.

Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders received a report at 9.48 am reporting a 321-foot barge, MMLP 321, allided with the Pelican Island Causeway.

The MMLP 321 was reported to be carrying 30,000 barrels of vacuum gas oil. A photo from the US Coast Guard showed splotches of oil spilled from the barge into the waters in the vicinity of the incident. 

US: Barge crashes into Pelican Island Causeway in Texas

Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and coordinated the launch of a Coast Guard Station Galveston boat crew to respond.

The Coast Guard said a 3,000 feet of containment boom has been deployed in the vicinity of the allision.

The intercoastal waterway has been closed from Pelican Cut (mile marker 351.5) to the Galveston Causeway (mile marker 357.3) and a 5.8-mile safety zone has been issued for the surrounding waters. Mariners are urged to avoid the area.

No injuries have been reported. 

On 16 May, AP reported that the Coast Guard said it was estimated that up to 2,000 gallons of oil may have spilled into surrounding waters when the barge struck the bridge. 


Photo credit: US Coast Guard
Published: 17 May 2024

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Bunker Fuel

NTSB report dismisses bunker fuel as cause of Singapore-registered “Dali” crashing into Baltimore bridge

After numerous fuel testing on the LSMGO bunker fuel “Dali” was using, NTSB preliminary report highlighted that ‘the test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel’.





Singapore-registered “Dali” crashing into Baltimore bridge

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday (14 May) has dismissed contaminated bunker fuel as a cause behind Singapore-registered Dali crashing into Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in its latest report. 

This was the latest finding of NTSB in its preliminary report, titled Contact of Containership Dali with the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Subsequent Bridge Collapse, investigating the fatal incident.

The vessel struck the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on 26 March at about 1.30pm (Singapore Time), causing the bridge to collapse. 

Following the collision which killed six people, speculation was rife whether contaminated bunker fuel played a role in the containership losing power and crashing into the bridge. 

NTSB found that the ship used three main grades of bunker fuel for the main engine and electrical generators: low-sulphur marine gas oil (LSMGO), low-sulphur heavy fuel oil, and heavy fuel oil. 

Dali carried an estimated 1.8 million gallons of fuel in dedicated vessel fuel tanks. None of the vessel’s dedicated fuel tanks were damaged. 

The last time Dali crew switched fuel was on the evening of 21 March, five days before the accident, when they switched to burning LSMGO in all engines upon entering US territorial waters (12 miles off the Atlantic coast), as required by emission regulatory requirements.

The containership took on various amounts of all three types of fuel in Newark, New Jersey, on 19 March after the month-long trip from Sri Lanka. Fuel-sample analysis results indicated that the LSMGO fuel bunkered in Newark, which was the same type of fuel in use during the accident events, complied with international standards and regulations. 

According to the report, NTSB said: “The test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel.”

On 28 March, the owner of the ship took samples of the LSMGO that was being burned at the time of the accident. At NTSB direction, the owner transferred the samples to an independent laboratory. 

“The test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel,” it said.

On 11 April, additional fuel samples were taken from all fuel tanks and various fuel supply manifolds on board the vessel; samples were tested by an independent lab. 

“Fuel-sample analysis results indicated that the LSMGO fuel being burned at the time of the accident complied with international standards and regulations. The test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel,” NTSB added. 

First series of blackouts when in port

Instead, NTSB found Dali experienced two electrical blackouts 10 hours before leaving Baltimore on 25 March during in-port maintenance. The first in-port blackout was caused by the mechanical blocking of the online generator’s exhaust gas stack. The second blackout in port was related to insufficient fuel pressure for the online generator. 

Second series of blackouts when leaving port

Screenshot 2024 05 15 at 11.50.41 AM

NTSB also found Dali experienced two electrical blackouts when it was leaving Port of Baltimore when electrical breakers that fed most of the vessel’s equipment and lighting unexpectedly tripped.

The NTSB is still investigating the electrical configuration following the first in-port blackout and potential impacts on the events during the accident voyage.

It also said it will continue evaluating the design and operation of Dali’s power distribution system including its breakers.

“NTSB is working with parties to immediately assess their bridges and determine whether pier protection needs to be improved,” it added.

Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Limited, the vessel’s owner, owns 55 ships—a mix of containerships including Dali, bulk carriers, and tankers. 

As of 26 March, Singapore-based Synergy Marine Group, the vessel manager who provided the crew and operated the vessel for the owner, managed 55 ships under Panama, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong, Liberia, and Singapore flags, including Dali.

Note: The full marine investigation preliminary report by NTSB titled ‘Contact of Containership Dali with the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Subsequent Bridge Collapse’ can be found here

Related: Baltimore bridge crash: Safety investigation to include contaminated bunker fuel as possible cause
Related: Baltimore bridge collapse: FuelTrust highlights bunkering activities of Singapore-registered “Dali”
Related: MPA: Singapore-registered ship in Baltimore bridge crash passed previous foreign port state inspections


Photo credit: National Transportation Safety Board
Published: 15 May 2024

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