BP Rejects 'Baseless Allegation' of VLSFO Link to Grounding of Bulker Wakashio

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday January 15, 2021

Oil producer BP has rejected as 'baseless accusations' the recent claims that VLSFO it supplied had a role in the grounding and subsequent break-up of a dry bulk carrier off Mauritius last summer.

The Wakashio, chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and owned and managed by Nagashiki Shipping, ran aground off Mauritius in July and spilled about 1,000 mt of bunker fuel as it broke up.

A Forbes article earlier this month posited a BP link to the disaster, saying the oil company had bunkered the ship in Singapore with VLSFO that was subsequently found to be off-specification on viscosity and cat fines. The article claims the ship changed direction when this came to light, heading towards Mauritius.

BP was "taking a gamble with the lives of the crew and the coastline of surrounding countries by allowing the vessel to sail with this fuel on board," the Forbes article said.

BP has issued a statement this week saying it "absolutely rejects the baseless allegations and insinuations contained in this article."

"MOL raised no concerns about the quality of the oil, nor have the operators of seven other vessels that received the same fuel," the company said.

"A number of the properties of the oil that are alleged in the article do not correspond with these analyses.

"We are not aware of anything to indicate that fuel quality contributed to the vessel's grounding.

"Indeed, initial investigations reported on ship operator MOL's website in December 2020 point explicitly to safety and navigation issues as the probable cause.

"They make no reference to mechanical issues."

The author of the article has written a series of articles for Forbes campaigning against the use of VLSFO in the global fleet, portraying the new fuels in hostile terms and sometimes getting technical details confused.

The article about BP from earlier this month calls VLSFO "an experimental mixture of jet fuel and heavy ship oil that is causing engine failures around the world" -- a characterisation to which the bunker industry would raise several objections.