Singapore’s contaminated bunkers crisis grows

Singapore’s bunkering crisis is turning into one of the most severe off-spec incidents in decades, likely leading to claims worth tens of millions of dollars.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has identified around 200 ships that have received high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) containing high concentration levels of chlorinated organic compounds. The MPA yesterday named Glencore as the supplier of the blended product, adding that PetroChina had bought some of the off-spec fuel from Glencore to sell it in Singapore too.

Of the 200 ships supplied, about 80 have reported various issues with their fuel pumps and engines.

The MPA said it is currently in discussions with the industry on implementing additional fuel quality checks that would screen for unacceptable chemicals.

P&I club Skuld revealed in a recent update that it has recently received an increased number of P&I and hull claims related to HSFO stemmed at Singapore and which were found to be contaminated with chlorinated compounds resulting in damage to fuel injection pumps, injectors, filter elements and purifier systems.

Sources in the US warn that a similar contaminated fuel issue has been detected in Houston.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. The problem has been there all along, as history has shown. The cause is unethical traders and owners / charterers penny pinching and not willing to shell out a few $ on testing.
    Some years back an international trading firm (also involved with bunkers), its brokers and u/w tried to persuade me to sell off-spec jet fuel using test certs which did not show the problem. If they’ll do that with jet fuel what of other products?
    The same happens all the time with bunkers.

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