Clean-up off Qingdao begins after crude oil tanker collision causes spill

The collision between Suezmax oil tanker A Symphony (IMO 9249324) and general cargo ship Sea Justice (IMO 9309514) during the morning local time on April 27th in the Yellow Sea south of Qingdao, China looks to have resulted in cargo and ballast tanks being breached with some of the cargo spilling out.

Clean-up crews worked on Wednesday to contain the oil spill. A preliminary study estimated about 500 tonnes (3,420 barrels) of oil had been spilled but this needed further assessment, a Shandong Maritime Safety Administration official who declined to be identified told Reuters.

The Shandong official said 12 vessels have been dispatched to deal with the accident and clean-up, but could not say whether the leak had been contained.

The A Symphony had arrived at Rizhao – Qingdao anchorage on April 15th, having travelled from Western Africa via Malaysia. The Sea Justice moved to Qingdao anchorage after the collision and was anchored.

What appeared to be photos of A Symphony after the collision showed a starboard list, although it was observed by experts that this could be explained by deliberate ballasting in an attempt to raise a hull hole above waterline, thus mitigating the impact of any oil cargo leak.

It was reported that the A Symphony was carrying about 1m barrels of bitumen mix, although that “one million” figure could refer just to the vessel’s maximum capacity, rather than the amount it was carrying.

Bitumen mix is a blend of heavy crude oils and residues. It is used by China’s independent refiners as an alternative refining feedstock; it often incurs lower import tax than crude oil and can be used for road surfacing and roofing.

The collision reportedly occurred at about 09:00 local time in thick fog. A Symphony was at anchor when the collision took place.

Goodwood Ship Management, manager of the Liberia-flagged tanker, said that “there are oil spill experts on the scene that have started clean-up operations,”

China’s Shandong Maritime Safety Administration on Tuesday instructed ships to stay at least 10 nautical miles from A Symphony, but didn’t provide details on how much oil has leaked.

Hong Kong-based fuel trading company Run Cheng International Resource (HK) Co said that it was the owner of the 150,000-tonne cargo of bitumen blend on board A Symphony. It was possible that some of the cargo could already have been offloaded by lighters, considering the fact that A Symphony arrived on April 15th.

2001-built, Liberia-flagged, 79,525 gt A Symphony is owned by Symphony Shipholding SA care of manager NGM Energy SA of Piraeus, Greece. ISM manager is Goodwood Ship Management of Singapore. It is entered with North of England on behalf of Symphony Shipholding SA.

2005-built, Panama-flagged, 24,960 gt Sea Justice is owned by Sea Justice Ltd care of manager Glory Ships Co Ltd of Qingdao, Shandong, China. It is entered with Swedish Club.