QINGDAO: Chinese officials were waiting for better weather before deciding whether to siphon off the remaining cargo from a stricken tanker after hundreds of tonnes of oil spilled into the Yellow Sea after a collision in dense fog two days ago.
The size of the spill from the Liberia-flagged tanker A Symphony was revised down to about 400 tonnes (2,920 barrels) on Thursday (Apr 29), from the original estimate of 500 tonnes, and one maritime official said it seemed to have been contained.
An official at the Shandong Maritime Safety Administration told Reuters the amount of oil on the tanker, which had been carrying a 150,000 tonnes of bitumen blend, was unchanged. That would indicate no more was leaking, although the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the information was not definitive.
A second Shandong official said it was unclear whether the leak had been stopped and it was "hard to say" what the impact on the marine environment might be.
The official told Reuters the initial plan was to use other vessels, known as lighters, to transfer cargo from the A Symphony, rather than pull it to a port.
But first the weather must improve. The Shandong Maritime Safety Administration has warned of strong wind, which could clear the fog, but still might complicate the clean-up.
The tanker was at anchor when a collision took place in dense fog with the bulk carrier Sea Justice on Tuesday. The impact caused a breach in A Symphony's cargo tanks and ballast tanks, A Symphony's manager Goodwood Ship Management said in a statement on Tuesday.
Qingdao Glory Ships, owner of the Sea Justice, has not responded to attempts to contact it via telephone, email and fax.
Initially, the accident was thought to have happened 11 nautical miles southeast of the port, but on Thursday the Maritime Safety Administration on Thursday revised the location to 40 nautical miles from Qingdao Port.
Ships have been instructed to stay at least 10 nautical miles away from the A Symphony, but the agency said on Thursday the accident had not affected traffic to and from the port.
Hong Kong-based fuel trading company Run Cheng International Resource (HK) has said it was the owner of the 150,000 tonnes of bitumen blend on board the A Symphony.
Bitumen mix, a blend of heavy crude oil and residue, is used by China's independent refiners as an alternative refining feedstock as it often incurs a lower import tax than crude oil. It is also used for road surfacing and roofing.