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Vessel Operator, Captain and Chief Engineer plead guilty to illegal oil discharge

Zeus Lines Management pleaded guilty to maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of oily bilge and for failing to report a hazardous condition on board “Galissas”.

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Zeus Lines Management S.A. (Zeus), a vessel operating company, pleaded guilty on 1 May in Providence, Rhode Island, to maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of oily bilge and for failing to report a hazardous condition on board the oil tanker Galissas, according to the United States Department of Justice on Wednesday (3 May). 

The company’s chief engineer, Roberto Cayabyab Penaflor, and Captain Jose Ervin Mahigne Porquez also pleaded guilty today for their roles in those crimes. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on 8 August.

According to court documents, Zeus and Penaflor admitted that oily bilge water was illegally dumped from the Galissas directly into the ocean without being properly processed through required pollution prevention equipment. Oily bilge water typically contains oil contamination from the operation and cleaning of machinery on the vessel. They also admitted that these illegal discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book as required by law.

Specifically, on three separate occasions between November 2021 and February 2022, Penaflor ordered crew members working for him in the engine room to discharge a total of approximately 9,544 gallons of oily bilge water from the vessel’s bilge holding tank directly into the ocean using the vessel’s emergency fire pump, bypassing the vessel’s required pollution prevention equipment. In addition, in preparation for the U.S. Coast Guard’s inspection of the Galissas, Penaflor instructed crew members on several occasions to not tell the Coast Guard about bypassing the pollution prevention equipment resulting in illegal discharges.

“This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of the marine environment, and to safeguarding coastal communities against hazardous conditions,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure those who pollute and endanger our coastal communities are held fully accountable.”

“A critical mission of this office is protecting our environment from pollution and polluters, whether they impact our neighbourhoods or precious natural resources like the Narragansett Bay, one of the crown jewels of Rhode Island,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha for the District of Rhode Island. “In this case, a foreign company decided it could ignore its obligation under American law, putting our waters and coastal communities at risk. Today’s guilty pleas are a reminder that this office will enforce our environmental laws to hold violators – individuals and corporate – accountable and protect our vital natural resources and our citizenry.”

“This case demonstrates the U.S. government’s resolve to ensure the safety of life at sea and protect our ports from rogue and negligent actors,” said Rear Admiral John Mauger, Commander of the First Coast Guard District. “Every day, thousands of ships safely call on U.S. ports and handle nearly 95% of U.S. trade that drives our economy and provides for our national security. By sailing into a major U.S. port with a known faulty inert gas generator, the operator, and senior officers of the Galissas endangered not only their shipmates but also the people of Rhode Island. The Coast Guard will continue to train and deploy our vessel examiners to protect mariners and our nation's ports by deterring and detecting unsafe and illegal activity. We appreciate the strong resolve from the Justice Department in holding these rogue actors accountable.

In addition to the illegal discharges of oily bilge water, on 2 February, 2022, while the Galissas was conducting cargo operations in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, crew members became aware that the vessel’s inert gas system was inoperable. This system is necessary to ensure that oxygen levels within the vessel’s cargo tanks remain at safe levels – at or below 8% – and do not pose a hazardous condition that could lead to an explosion or fire. Rather than remaining in Rotterdam until the inert gas system could be repaired, shore side management of Zeus and Captain Porquez determined that the vessel should instead sail to the United States, where a spare part would be delivered upon the vessel’s arrival for the crew to repair the system.

On 11 February, 2022, while the Galissas was transiting the Atlantic Ocean from the Netherlands to the United States, Porquez submitted a required notice of arrival to the U.S. Coast Guard informing the Coast Guard of, among other things, the vessel’s last port of call, planned arrival in the United States and the type of cargo onboard the vessel. In this notice of arrival, Porquez did not report that a hazardous condition existed onboard the vessel (the inoperable inert gas system). 

On 19 February, 2022, the Galissas arrived off the coast of Rhode Island and although the vessel’s crew received and installed the spare part, the inert gas system remained inoperable. The following day, the U.S. Coast Guard measured the oxygen levels within the vessel’s cargo tanks and found levels ranged between 15 and 17%, well beyond the maximum allowable 8%. The Coast Guard then ordered that the vessel be moved further offshore so as to not endanger the port of Newport, Rhode Island.

Porquez had a logbook created that indicated the cargo tanks were at safe oxygen levels when the vessel left the Netherlands and remained at safe levels during the majority of the vessel’s transit of the Atlantic Ocean. In reality, the crew had not taken any readings of the oxygen levels in the cargo tanks during the vessel’s voyage. Porquez had tasked the vessel’s chief officer with creating this fraudulent logbook that was then presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during its inspection.

Zeus and Penaflor each pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to accurately maintain the oil record book for the Galissas. Zeus and Porquez also pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act for failing to report the vessel’s hazardous condition to the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Under the terms of the plea agreement Zeus will pay a total monetary penalty of USD 2.25 million, consisting of a fine of USD 1,687,500 and a community service payment of USD 562,500. The community service payment will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund projects to benefit marine and coastal natural resources located in the State of Rhode Island. Additionally, Zeus will serve a four-year term of probation, during which any vessels operated by the company and calling on U.S. ports will be required to implement a robust environmental compliance plan.

The U.S. Coast Guard Southeastern New England Sector and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service are investigating the case.

 

Photo credit: Bill Oxford
Published: 5 May, 2023

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Biofuel

GCMD concludes its final biofuel blend supply chain trial with Hapag-Lloyd

bp provided the B30 biofuel blend to the “TIHAMA”, a 19,870 TEU container vessel operated by Hapag-Lloyd in final trial; marks the end of a series of trials initiated in July 2022.

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GCMD concludes its final biofuel blend supply chain trial with Hapag-Lloyd

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) on Thursday (18 July) said it has successfully completed its final supply chain trial for biofuel blended with very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). 

This marks the end of a series of trials initiated in July 2022 as part of a larger pilot to develop a framework to provide quality, quantity and GHG abatement assurances for drop-in fuels.

In this final trial, bp provided the B30 biofuel blend to the TIHAMA, a 19,870 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container vessel operated by Hapag-Lloyd.

The biofuel component used is certified to the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) standard – a multistakeholder certification scheme for biobased materials. The biofuel component comprised neat Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) produced from food waste.

Authentix, a tracer solutions provider, supplied and dosed the FAME with an organic-based tracer at the storage terminal outside the Netherlands. The dosed FAME was then transported to the Port of Rotterdam for blending with VLSFO to achieve a B30 blend, before the blend was bunkered onboard the TIHAMA.

Similar to previous trials, GCMD engaged fuel testing company Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) to witness the operations at all stages – from biofuel cargo transfer to bunkering. VPS also collected and conducted extensive laboratory tests on samples of the biofuel and biofuel blend collected at pre-determined points along the supply chain to assess quality per Standards EN 14214 and ISO 8217.

With well-to-wake emissions of 13.74 gCO2e/MJ, the neat FAME presented a 85.4% emissions reduction compared to the emissions of the fossil marine fuel. The reduced emissions complies with the MEPC 80, which requires a minimum emissions reduction of 65% in order for biofuels to be classified as sustainable.

GCMD and Hapag-Lloyd determined that consumption of the 4,500 MT B30 blend of FAME and VLSFO resulted in 27.9% emissions reduction compared to sailing on VLSFO.

A newly developed tracer deployed with this supply chain

GCMD collaborated with Authentix to develop and deploy a new organic-based tracer to authenticate the origin and verify the amount of FAME present in the blend. The proprietary tracer blended homogeneously with FAME and was detected at expected concentrations at all sampling points along the supply chain.

This trial marks the first deployment of this tracer in a marine fuel supply chain. Previously, similar tracers were used to authenticate and quantify biofuels in road transport and LPG supply chains.

Development of a comprehensive biofuels assurance framework underway

With the completion of this trial, GCMD has deployed a diverse range of tracer technologies, including synthetic DNA and element-based tracers, in addition to the organic-based tracer used in this trial. The trials have also included the development of a chemical fingerprinting methodology and the evaluation of lock-and-seal and automatic identification systems (AIS) as additional solutions to ensure the integrity of the biofuels supply chain.

Learnings on tracer limitations and benefits will be incorporated into a framework that recommends appropriate use to ensure consistent and robust performance. This effort will complement existing ISCC by providing additional supply chain assurance through physical traceability.

The insights from these trials will be shared in a series of reports covering issues, such as traceability, biofuel degradation, supply chain optimisation and abatement costs. These findings will culminate in a comprehensive assurance framework to provide guidance on biofuels use, slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2024.

 

Photo credit: Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation
Published: 19 July 2024

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Ammonia

MPA, ITOCHU and partners sign MoU on ammonia-fuelled bulk carriers study

As a government agency, MPA,will review and provide their views to the designs of the ammonia-fuelled ships to ensure their safe operations, says ClassNK.

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Classification society ClassNK on Thursday (18 July) said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ITOCHU Corporation, Nihon Shipyard Co., Ltd., and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) regarding a joint study for the design and safety specifications of ammonia-fuelled ships which are under development by ITOCHU and partners.

“The discussion for a specification of ammonia-fuelled ships with a governmental body related to their operation is essential for a social implementation of ammonia-fuelled ships,” ClassNK said. 

“As one of parties of the MoU, MPA, a government agency overseeing the world’s busiest bunkering hub, will review and provide their views to the designs of the ammonia-fuelled ships to ensure their safe operations.”

The MoU is based on the premise that 200,000 deadweight ton class bulk carriers will be built by Nihon Shipyard with an ammonia dual-fuelled engine.

“The necessary clarifications of the specification for the ammonia-fueled ship to carry out ammonia bunkering in Singapore will be conducted among parties of this MoU, for the commercialisation of ammonia-fuelled ships,” ClassNK added.

 

Photo credit: Venti Views on Unsplash
Published: 19 July 2024

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Biofuel

“K” Line to use biofuel on three Gram Car Carriers-chartered vessels in Singapore

Biofuel will be supplied to the sister vessels “Viking Ocean”, “Viking Diamond” and “Viking Coral” while bunkering in Singapore, says Gram Car Carriers.

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“K” Line to use biofuel on three Gram Car Carriers-chartered vessels in Singapore

Norwegian transportation firm Gram Car Carriers (GCC) on Thursday (18 July) said Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (“K” LINE) will use biofuel on three vessels chartered from GCC from July onwards. 

“The biofuel will be supplied to the sister vessels Viking Ocean, Viking Diamond and Viking Coral while bunkering in Singapore, an Asian hub for marine biofuels,” GCC said on its social media. 

“The use of biofuel is a key environmental initiative to reduce emissions across the entire value chain (well-to-exhaust) and an effective way of transitioning to low-carbon marine fuels amid globally tightening environmental regulations.”

“We support the green mobility shift. This means that GCC commit to supporting the transition of both vehicles and their logistic chain towards a zero-emission future in close cooperation with leading customers such as K-Line,” said Georg A. Whist, CEO of GCC.

 

Photo credit: Gram Car Carriers
Published: 19 July 2024

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