Foreign Ship Stranded With No Hope Of Refuelling

As the fourth week of the Kitimat aluminium smelter strike commences, a Norwegian cargo ship captain, Capt. Roman Vicente Fudolig, trapped at a dock from July, calls on Rio Tinto and the union to permit it to be refuelled again.

MV Indiana is currently berthed at Terminal B wharf of Rio Tinto from 17 July in anticipation of being loaded with aluminium. It will soon run out of Emission Control Area (ECA) compliant low sulfur marine fuel if it does not get refuelled by the end of August.

Federal regulations state that any vessel that has been docked in Canadian waters can be refuelled only with limited sulfur marine fuel. The vessel does have high sulfur fuel onboard but switching to it would be violating the mandates of federal and other International Maritime Organization mandates. MV Indiana has raised a requisition of 100- 170 metric tonnes of low-sulfur fuel.

Port Rio - ship representation
Representation Image

Arbutus Point Marine Ltd. is the only supplier of low-sulfur gas oil to foreign ships on Canada’s Pacific coast. It has reportedly said that Northwest Fuels, their subcontractor, is not agreeing to go beyond picket lines fearing defamation on social media platforms.

Contractors constantly fear that people on the picket line will take pictures of fuel trucks and upload them on social media, causing repercussions locally.

When the strike began in July, videos of these contractors being heckled outside the smelter by union workers had gone viral on social media platforms.

The foreign crew on MV Indiana cannot disembark due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The vessel cannot be taken out of its berth as the tug boat operators refuse to cross picket lines.
Northwest Fuels has refused to comment about the situation citing confidentiality issues with regards to information about customer deliveries.

While vessels arriving at the Kitimat docks typically have sufficient fuel to go back after they have collected the cargo, MV Indiana had encountered a delay as cargo delivery from the aluminium smelter had been affected by the strike that began on 25 July.

While officials from Unifor 2301 and Rio Tinto met on 12 August in Kitimat to check if negotiations could be renewed, there has been no news as to if the negotiations will resume.


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