Bunker Contamination Crisis Hits Singapore As Ships Hit With “Blackouts” 

A major bunker fuel contamination has been reported in Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub, with dozens of ships receiving tainted high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) that has led to dangerous power blackouts, according to Bloomberg

Fuel testing firm Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) reports 34 vessels were identified to have received HSFO from two unidentified Singapore suppliers between February and March. The marine fuel contained up to 2,000 parts per million (ppm) of chlorinated hydrocarbons.

“These bunker fuel contaminations have affected 14 vessels so far and the impact has been failure of the fuel system to the auxiliary engine resulting in loss of power and propulsion creating a blackout. 

“Fuel system failure arose from seizure of the fuel pumps and plunger and barrel corrosion, caused by the bunker fuel contaminants,” VPS said in the statement.

Out of the 34 vessels, almost half experienced power blackouts with the loss of propulsion systems, creating a hazardous situation if the ships were underway.  

Such incidents could dent demand for bunker fuel in Singapore which is at the crossroads of a centuries-old trade route that links Asia to Europe and the Middle East to the US. 

Maritime news website Splash 247 reported in early March that the contaminated fuel contains “abrasive particles that could cause accelerated wear of diesel engine components.” 

This is just another wrench thrown into the snarled global supply chain as one can only imagine the affected ships would need to go down for maintenance and repairs. 

For some color on the state of the current global supply chain, Goldman Sachs’ Jordan Alliger notes this week, “we are past peak bottlenecks.” Even though congestion remains elevated, supply chains around the world are normalizing. 

As for the vessels affected by contaminated marine fuel, no information was given on what type of ships were affected nor size or maintenance and repair timelines. 

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