Friday, 2 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 3 – ‘An Everyday Occurrence’?

 

A series of posts in which I highlight areas where Trafigura, or those whose writing is supportive of them, does not tell the whole truth.  There will be truth, possibly a lot of truth, in the statements I look at but all is not as it seems. [UPDATE: added 21.30 on 3 Dec 2011: I don’t allege that the ‘Not the Whole Truth’s are deliberate.]

In the first two posts I concentrated on the second sentence in Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala” – on page 4 after the index. I move on but not far: the same paragraph but the fourth sentence. I show the entire paragraph but with the fourth sentence highlighted.

In 2006 Trafigura time chartered the Probo Koala, a tanker, for the transportation of oil products. The vessel carried out a procedure for caustic washing on several cargoes of one such product, coker naphtha, and needed to discharge a relatively small amount of residual waste (often referred to as ‘slops’). Coker naphtha is a commonly available and widely traded product. The discharge and treatment of slops and waste materials from all vessels, including crude oil and product carriers, is an everyday occurrence around the world.

The fourth sentence is absolutely true and, as a sentence standing isolated from others, I disagree with not one word …..

…. but yet it conceals a huge truth.

The highlighted sentence in the context of the paragraph implies, in my view, that the Probo Koala’s waste was of a type normally or routinely discharged – ‘an everyday occurrence’ - but the waste was far from routine and Trafigura’s emails show they knew that it was not routine waste.

In December 2005, Naeem Ahmed sent an email – cc-ing Claude Dauphin – which stated:

‘I have approached all our storage terminals with the possibility of Caustic washing and only Vopak Fujairah and Tankmed La Skhirra our (sic) willing to entertain the idea, and currently perform this operation at FRCL (Fujairah) only.  This operation is no longer allowed in EU / US / Singapore.

Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell) and suppliers of caustic are unwilling to dispose of the water since there are not many facilities remaining in the market.  There is a company in Rotterdam that burns such waste in a high stack chimney and charges are approx $200/kg and could have up to 1000kg of sludge after a treatment operation.  Under EU law you no longer allowed to transport such waste across EU borders.’

Here Trafigura are looking at caustic washing the coker naphtha on land but they are struggling to find any company to do so because the process is banned or because the waste is difficult and expensive to dispose of.

According to the Judgment of the Dutch Court, “The washing of gasoline is an industrial process that, up until that point, had always been carried out in appropriate installations on land, …

I have seen no evidence that caustic washing of coker naphtha had ever been carried out on board ship before Trafigura used the Probo Koala.

 

If this was the first time this process had been carried out on board ship, then disposal of the Probo Koala’s cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

If ‘suppliers of caustic are unwilling to dispose of the water since there are not many facilities remaining in the market’ then disposal of the Probo Koala’s waste cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

If ‘Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell)’ then disposal of the Probo Koala’s waste cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

 

(A)n everyday occurrence’? 

Not the whole truth !

The information in this post not only shows ‘not the whole truth’ it begs the question, ‘How could Trafigura not ensure that the waste was disposed of by one of the ‘not many facilities remaining in the market.’  I’ll come back to this in another post.

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