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Home Port News Singapore’s Transport Minister: Boxship queues in Singapore unrelated to oil spill

Singapore’s Transport Minister: Boxship queues in Singapore unrelated to oil spill

Singapore’s Transport Minister has asserted that port congestion is not to blame for the serious oil spill that occurred after an allision between a dredger and a bunker tanker.

In a Facebook post on 18 June, four days after the accident, the minister, Chee Hong Tat, said: “Investigations are still ongoing, but preliminary findings show that the allision on 14 June was caused by the dredger experiencing sudden loss of engine and steering controls. It is not due to congestion as our port waters and anchorages are not congested.”

The Red Sea crisis has seen a surge in boxship arrivals in the world’s second-busiest port as schedules are disrupted.

However, Chee said, “The earlier reports on delays experienced by container vessels are a separate matter that is due to the bunching of container vessels arriving at PSA (Singapore’s container terminal operator).”

The Van Oord-owned dredger, Vox Maxima, had reportedly knocked into the bunker tanker, Marine Honour, which is owned by physical bunker supplier Straits Bunkering. At the time, Marine Honour was supplying bunkers to an Evergreen container ship, Ever Blink, at Pasir Panjang Terminal along Singapore’s west coast. The impact damaged Marine Honour’s cargo tank, causing its fuel oil cargo to spill out.

Efforts to clean up the oil have been impeded by tidal currents that have carried the oil to Singapore’s east coast and southern islands, causing many beaches and parts of the resort island Sentosa to be closed to facilitate clearance operations.

Singapore still struggling to clear oil spill after four days

Describing the challenges, Chee said: “Upon being alerted of the incident at 2.22pm, MPA responded by 2.33pm to ensure that there were no further leaks from the bunker vessel which still had 400 metric tonnes of fuel oil remaining in its tank, and sprayed dispersant to treat the oil that had already spilt instantly into the sea. This is important to prevent the oil from hardening, which would make subsequent clean-up operations at sea and on land much harder.

“MPA’s contractor also mobilised oil booms around the damaged vessel to prevent further oil spill that may leak from the vessel. While the booms can help reduce the spread of the spill, they may not completely prevent the oil from spreading as some of the oil could be carried by tidal currents and waves, and go above or below the booms.”

Today, the MPA began deploying drones and using satellite imagery to detect drifting oil slicks to better target the cleaning equipment.

MPA has mobilised three current busters, which collect oil on the surface of the water. The mechanism, pulled by two vessels, sweeps the water’s surface, moving the oil towards a containment area.

Vox Maxima and Marine Honour remain moored in the Western Anchorage pending investigations into the incident.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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