Stolt tanker remains in hot water in Korea

Seventeen months on from a very high profile explosion in the southeast of South Korea and the ship in question remains the source of much conjecture, still unable to leave the Asian nation.

Eighteen people were injured when a fire broke out on two vessels following an explosion on the chemical tanker Stolt Groenland moored at the Korean port of Ulsan in later September 2019.

The fire that broke out after the explosion spread to another chemical tanker, Bow Dalian, which was moored alongside the Stolt vessel. It was reported that the two vessels were conducting a ship-to-ship transfer when the explosion occurred.

Stolt Groenland is owned by Stolt Tankers, while Bow Dalian is owned by Odfjell.

The explosion was so large, captured on multiple videos, that it made headlines around the world. The ship remains at a local shipyard with the clean up still on going.

In a recent Korean state hearing, the head of the ministry for maritime and fisheries was called as a witness for an update on progress. According to the report from the hearing the shipping company is postponing finalising a full repair contract, preferring to move to China for less costly repairs in a move that is meeting resistance in South Korea.

Local sources have said that it looks like the shipping company wishes to remove and destroy the dangerous and polluting cargoes in Korea and then take the vessel away where the valuable repair contract will be completed elsewhere.

Splash understands that meeting the terms of the port clearance will require the vessel to be made fully seaworthy before departure.

A spokesperson for Stolt Tankers confirmed that the Stolt Groenland remains lifted ashore at Sungdong Shipyard in Tongyeong in South Korea, as work continues on removing polymerized styrene from its cargo and ballast tanks. The completion of this work is expected to take several months.

“Discussions with regards to the eventual repair of the Groenland are ongoing with both South Korean and other Asian shipyards,” the spokesperson told Splash.

The 43,478 dwt yellow-hulled tanker is insured by Gard.

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.
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