Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Trafigura’s Unanswered Questions

There must be countless questions asked of Trafigura which remain unanswered but, in this post, I list only the main ones which have come from me.

I don’t expect Trafigura to answer these questions now but I retain hope that they will do so.

Any information passed on will be received gratefully and, in anticipation, I say here,



24 July

When describing the Probo Koala's waste, Trafigura has described it as being relatively straightforward to dispose of.  For example, the Probo Koala factsheet you posted online 2 days ago contained the two following paragraphs:

“Gasoline washing is a common and legal process that reduces mercaptan levels in gasoline cargoes in order to meet specific contractual obligations.”


“Consequently the port [of Abidjan, Calum’s addition]  is highly experienced in dealing with slops from oil tankers and vessels and in 2006 more than 30,000 tonnes of slops were safely unloaded at Abidjan. Trafigura, as well as other major oil companies, have been operating in the Ivory Coast for decades.”

However, Trafigura emails from December 2005 through to April 2006 describe the waste as being difficult to dispose of and, therefore, as being far from routine.

How does Trafigura reconcile this difference?

I have posted today - http://calumcarr.blogspot.com/2010/07/trafigura-spent-caustic-more-negative.html - with a description of spent caustic in much more serious tones than used by Trafigura in its factsheet.

“Spent Caustics are the most difficult of all industrial wastes to dispose properly, with the exception of radionuclide wastes.  Since the dawn of petroleum refining, caustic solutions containing sodium hydroxide (common lye) have been used to wash sulfur and other undesirable compounds out of petroleum.  Its use has been in washing crude oils, intermediate fractions, and finished fuels throughout the refining processes.  The result of this washing is the generation of Spent Caustics, also called Waste Caustics and Toxic Wastes.”


“SPENT CAUSTICS are generated from many industrial processes.  Most are generated from the refining of petroleum to remove undesired SULFUR compounds from fuels.

In the refining industry, the net hydrogen sulfide captured in spent caustics is too low for effective sulfur recovery in typical Sulfur Recovery Units (SRU's) employing the common Claus Process, therefore, the spent caustics must be disposed properly.  In addition to the toxic hydrogen sulfide, both toxic mercaptans and phenolics are often captured in spent caustics, severely limiting the disposal options.”




How does Trafigura reconcile this difference?


26 August

More than four months ago you were kind enough to send me a copy of the Summary Report of an environmental audit  produced by WSP.   Unfortunately this contained little detail and little new information and so I asked that you send me copies of the three constituent reports.

-   Works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Volume 1 – Exploratory Investigation Report, referenced 12024964-001 and dated April 2009;

-   Works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Volume 2 – A Contextual Assessment, referenced 12024964-002 and dated April 2009; and,

-   Works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Volume 3 – Follow-up Investigation, referenced 12024964-003 and dated July 2009

That you have not done so baffles me.  Clearly, these reports contain information supportive of your stance and there can be no reason for them not to be made public.  Once again I ask that you forward these three reports to me at this address so that I can put them into the public domain.  You might want to take the different option of making them available on your website.


7 September

I note that Trafigura has for a long time dismissed the Minton Report as a work-in-progress which was soon superseded by the NFI Report which Trafigura claim is the authoritative report on the Probo Koala's waste.

A copy  - in Dutch - is available on the Greenpeace website but the absence of a freely available English version leaves interested parties with only the Minton Report to work from.   Clearly Trafigura has an English version of the NFI Report.  Could you please forward a copy to me at this email address?   I assume that I can make the copy freely available.


12 September

As I try to understand what happened prior to the illegal dumping of the Probo Koala's waste by Compagnie Tommy I have a few questions to which I'd appreciate your answers. After that are some questions about the Vest tank incident.

Abidjan and Waste Disposal Facilities

1.  At the time the Probo Koala docked in Abidjan in 2006 were there actually facilities there capable of accepting and treating the PK's waste in the appropriate way?  I note that the waste was NOT typical of oil tankers but was the residue of on-board caustic washing and as the NFI Report stated the composition of the waste in the slop tanks of the Probo Koala was in accordance with the composition of waste that can be caused by the washing of the naphtha-like fraction from the cracking of an oil refinery with sodium hydroxide.   That waste is very different from that normally generated by/on oil tankers.

2a.  If the answer to Question 1 is 'YES' then

      -  please tell me the name and owner of these facilities?

      -  when did Trafigura or any of its subsidiaries become aware that these facilities could handle the PK's waste?

      -  when did these facilities - i.e. those capable of handling the PK's actual waste - come on stream?

2b.  If the answer to Question 1 is 'NO' then

     -  when, and by whom, was Trafigura told that there were proper facilities?

     -  when was Trafigura or its subsidiaries or associates told that these apparently suitable facilities came on-stream?

3a.  Did the licences and authority of Compagnie Tommy allow it to handle typical oil-tanker generated waste?

3b.  Did the licences and authority of Compagnie Tommy show that it was capable of handling the PK's ACTUAL waste?

3c.  Did Trafigura describe its waste to Compagnie Tommy and the appropriate port authorities accurately?

      -  how did Trafigura describe its waste?

4.   Does Trafigura have anything to add to the notes already available on its website?

Vest tank

I am writing a blogpost based around an article on NRK's website in Norway - http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/distrikt/hordaland/1.6845104 - and an interview with Eric de Turckheim.  I assume Mr de Turckheim's comments as more nuanced than those which appear in the article.  The post will appear whether or not Trafigura replied but that I can better reflect the detail of the interview I would appreciate your sending me a transcription of the interview in English. 

I note also that I have received no reply to two recent emails, one requesting copies of the three individual reports produced by WSP and the other asking for an English translation of the NFI Report.



15 September

In mid-June you were kind enough to send me a translated copy of the DACA ruling in the case brought by Greenpeace.  To help me better understand the background to the decision could you send me an English copy of Trafigura's defence to the claims of Greenpeace?



Come on, Trafigura, earn my thanks!

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