SINGAPORE: Contaminated bunker fuel was supplied to around 200 ships in the Port of Singapore, of which about 80 have reported various issues with their fuel pumps and engines, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Wednesday (Apr 13).
Preliminary investigations by MPA found that global commodities firm Glencore had supplied the affected fuel.
In a media release, MPA said it had been notified on Mar 14 that a number of ships had been supplied with high sulphur fuel oil containing high concentration levels of chlorinated organic compounds (COC) in the country's port.
"MPA immediately contacted the relevant bunker suppliers to take necessary steps to stop supplying the affected fuel and to also inform all the ships that were supplied with the fuel to exercise caution when using it," the agency said.
"Glencore informed MPA that on receiving reports of its fuel being contaminated, Glencore proceeded to test the fuels supplied by its sources used in its blended product, and discovered that one of them that was sourced from overseas had contained about 15000 ppm of COC," said the authority.
By the time of testing, Glencore had already sold part of the affected fuel to PetroChina, which in turn, had supplied the fuel to ships in the Port of Singapore, MPA said.
MPA said it had conducted fuel sample tests for some of the affected ships and found elevated levels of COC in their fuel samples.
It described the incident as the first case of fuel contamination due to high concentration levels of COC reported in Singapore in the past two decades.
The agency noted that like all bunker fuel supplied in the Port of Singapore, the contaminated fuel purchased by Glencore was in compliance with ISO 8217.
It added that Glencore had also performed additional testing of the fuel based on another standard, ASTM D78452.
Neither standard tests for COC, said MPA.
"MPA is currently in discussions with the industry on implementing additional fuel quality checks that would screen for unacceptable chemicals," it said.
It added it also intends to submit a paper on the fuel contamination with COC to the International Maritime Organization for the members’ awareness.
"As a major bunkering hub, MPA takes bunker quality assurance seriously and will not hesitate to take necessary actions against relevant parties if they have failed to comply with MPA’s bunker licence conditions or other applicable regulations."
MPA's update comes after marine fuels testing company Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) informed its customers last month of contaminated fuel delivered to vessels in Singapore's port.