03 January 2015

2 Jan 2015: Oil spill off Pedra Branca

The year end seems to be perilous for ships. There have been two ship accidents recently, one resulted in an oil spill that has been described as "the largest in this region for some time". Last year there were 3 collisions with oil spills in Jan-Feb 2014.
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Yesterday, 2 Jan, 4,500 tonnes of crude oil were spilled due to a collision between a bulk carrier and oil tanker off Pedra Branca. The spill may affect the northern parts of Bintan. On 30 Dec, a barge ran aground on Pedra Branca.

From media reports and MPA news releases:

Ship collision on 2 Jan

On 2 Jan, a Singapore-registered bulk carrier Sinar Kapuas and Libyan-registered oil tanker Alyarmouk collided about 11 nautical miles northeast of Pedra Branca. The ship managers of Alyarmouk V. Ships UK Ltd estimate that 4,500 tonnes of Madura crude oil was spilled from the tanker. Taking into account the weather and tidal currents, patches of oil may affect the northern parts of the island of Bintan.

Upon notification, MPA deployed a helicopter to assess the situation. Oil spill response resources have also been activated. As part of standard operating procedures for joint oil spill combat in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, MPA has notified the Malaysian and Indonesian Authorities.

The two vessels involved in the collision are currently safely anchored and in stable condition.

Barge ran aground on 30 Dec

On 30 December 2014 at about 0645hrs, a barge POE Giant 12, flagged with the Singapore Registry, ran aground at Pedra Branca. There have been no reports of oil pollution or injury.
Photo from Today Online
The barge, which was carrying two bulk loader cranes, had left Singapore for Kuantan, Malaysia, on 25 December 2014. Preliminary investigations indicate that it had turned back towards Singapore after encountering inclement weather, and subsequently ran aground at Pedra Branca due to the adverse sea conditions.

Salvage operations by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) are currently underway in prevailing heavy sea conditions.

Update 7 Jan 2015: According to the Asian Wall Street Journal "By today’s standards 4,500 tons is a significant spill and the largest in this region for some time,” said Euan Graham, Senior Fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

Oil spills in excess of 700 tons of oil are classified as large spills, according to the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd., a nonprofit organization that tackles such disasters. The spill off Singapore is more than 10 times larger an oil leak off Bangladesh last month that endangered the world’s largest mangrove forest, and dwarfs the 50 tons spilled in the middle of last year near the popular tourist island of Koh Samet in Thailand.

On Tuesday, MPA said that satellite images taken and aerial surveillance didn’t show any oil headed toward Bintan, but the agency also said it had reported a possible sighting of an oil patch northeast of the island to Indonesian authorities, without providing further details."

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