Glencore Singapore has been banned from selling bunkers for two months for its part in the sale of contaminated bunkers in the city-state.
The Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it issued the ban because Glencore had continued to sell the fuel despite knowing of the contamination.
“Glencore contravened the terms and conditions of its bunkering licence (bunker supplier) in failing to ensure that no bunkers supplied by it were contaminated,” the MPA said.
The MPA said it will suspend Glencore’s bunkering licence for two months with effect from 18 August.
The MPA said it has also asked Glencore to “improve its internal procedures” to ensure that prompt action is taken in future when it becomes aware of, or reasonably suspects, any irregularity in fuel quality.
A total of 24 vessels were supplied with the affected fuel by Glencore from 22 March to 1 April 2022, and at least three vessels have reported issues with their fuel pumps and engines, the MPA said.
Glencore was the sixth-largest supplier of bunkers in Singapore in 2021, according to figures from the MPA.
PetroChina, which was also said to have supplied contaminated bunkers, escaped punishment.
“The MPA’s investigation … revealed that PetroChina had stopped delivery of the contaminated fuel promptly … once it received its own test results that the fuel it supplied was contaminated,” the MPA said.
PetroChina was Singapore’s largest bunker fuel supplier last year.
More than 200 ships in Singapore were reported to have been supplied with the contaminated fuel, which was traced to fuel loaded onto a tanker in the United Arab Emirates.
About 80 vessels have since reported various issues with their fuel pumps and engines.
Fuel on board the tanker was found to contain high concentrations of chlorinated organic compounds (COC) of up to 21,000 parts per million. COCs are not commonly present in bunker fuel, especially at such elevated levels.
Glencore had purchased the tainted fuel through Straits Pinnacle Pte, which had contracted its supply from Unicious Energy Pte.
The contaminated high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) was loaded at the Port of Khor Fakkan in the UAE onto a tanker and shipped to floating storage facilities in Tanjong Pelepas, Malaysia, to be further blended.
It was subsequently delivered to storage facilities in Singapore and part of the blended HSFO was also sold by Glencore to PetroChina International (Singapore).
The MPA and the Singapore Shipping Association are to co-chair an industry expert group to establish a list of chemicals to be tested and their corresponding concentration limits.
The expert group is expected to make recommendations on additional measures to strengthen the quality assurance of bunkers delivered in Singapore.
A Glencore spokesperson declined to comment on the matter when contacted by TradeWinds.