Preliminary Findings On Reported Bunker Fuel Contamination In Singapore Port

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) was notified on 14 March 2022 that a number of ships had been supplied with High Sulphur Fuel Oil (HSFO) containing high concentration levels of Chlorinated Organic Compounds (COC) (1,2-Dichloroethane, Tetrachloroethylene) in the Port of Singapore. 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.

Preliminary investigations conducted by MPA revealed that the affected fuel – a blended product, was supplied by Glencore Singapore Pte Ltd (Glencore). 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.

By the time of testing, Glencore had already sold part of the affected fuel to PetroChina International (Singapore) Pte Ltd (PetroChina), which in turn, had supplied to ships in the Port of Singapore.

Ships in Port of Singapore

To date, Glencore and PetroChina had supplied the affected fuel to about 200 ships in the Port of Singapore. Of these, about 80 ships have reported various issues with their fuel pumps and engines. MPA has conducted fuel sample tests for some of the affected ships and found elevated levels of COC in their fuel samples. This is the first case of fuel contamination due to high concentration levels of COC reported in Singapore in the past two decades.

Bunker fuel supplied in the Port of Singapore must meet the international standards of petroleum products of fuel – International Organization for Standardization 8217 (ISO 8217) [1]. The contaminated fuel purchased by Glencore was in compliance with ISO 8217. Glencore had also performed additional testing of the fuel based on the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D7845 [2]. Both ISO 8217 and ASTM D7845 do not test for COC.

MPA is currently in discussions with the industry on implementing additional fuel quality checks that would screen for unacceptable chemicals. MPA 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.

[1] ISO 8217 – International Standards Petroleum products — Fuels (class F) — Specifications of marine fuels.
[2] ASTM D7845 – Standard Test Method for Determination of Chemical Species in Marine Fuel Oil by Multidimensional Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry.

Reference: mpa.gov.sg

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