IBIA Chairman: Bunker Speculation Will Be Detrimental to Baltimore Bridge Collapse Investigation

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Monday April 8, 2024

The new chairman of industry body IBIA has suggested speculation on the potential role of the bunker fuel in last month's bridge collapse in Baltimore will be unhelpful to the investigation into the causes of the disaster.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on March 26 after being struck by the 9,962 TEU Singapore-flagged boxship Dali

The US National Transportation Safety Board has previously said it is investigating the possibility that a bunker fuel problem was one of the factors behind the incident. The organisation's preliminary report into the incident is expected to be published within a few days.

"IBIA and the bunkering community were horrified by the collapse of the Key Bridge two weeks ago in Baltimore and the related casualties," Constantinos Capetanakis, chairman of IBIA, told Ship & Bunker on Monday.

"IBIA, representing the bunker and marine energy industry at a global level, is conscious of the questions posed and the dire need for full and substantiated answers," he said.

"We are always at the disposal of authorities and regulatory bodies to assist and contribute to that end.

"In that respect, we are awaiting the conclusions of the ongoing NTSB and other US authorities’ investigation and empirical, first-hand data/evidence to be presented.

"Speculations need to be avoided, as vessels’ engine failure can be the result of a variety or combination of reasons. Accordingly, any material link to fuel needs to be ascertained first."

IBIA's Work on Raising Standards

Capetanakis also highlighted IBIA's work in raising the bunker industry's standards.

"IBIA has repeatedly made clear our commitment to raising standards and transparency in the bunkering supply chain and has underlined this by updating our Code of Practice in 2023," he said.

"Further to this commitment, we actively support national regulatory authorities seeking to introduce bunkering licensing requirements, support many of our members who are contributing to revising fuel quality standards at the forthcoming ISO and have recently contributed to and supported the Industry Expert Group which was convened by MPA and SSA in Singapore to include additional fuel controls following quality issues experienced in 2022.

"We strongly emphasize the need for proper fuel quality standards and control and as IBIA has consultative status at the IMO we advocate for these therein.

"To this effect we plan to make a statement at the commencement of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee meeting in May that categorically states that until empirical evidence is put forth, speculation will be detrimental on the ongoing investigation and the shipping industry in general."