The Burning Tanker in the South China Sea: A Global Crisis Awaits

Credit: Ojas Narappanawar/Pexels

A fire broke out on the old oil tanker Pablo while it was sailing in a highly trafficked area near Malaysia’s coast. The explosion caused the ship’s deck to detach, and dark smoke rose into the air, as reported by Yahoo.

Explosion on oil tanker 

An explosion occurred on the oil tanker Pablo off the coast of Malaysia, but the ship was almost empty at the time, so the damage was limited. Most of the crew was rescued by passing vessels. However, the lack of evidence of the ship’s owner and insurance is posing a challenge for the authorities to start a clean-up. The incident highlights the risks associated with the proliferation of ageing vessels transporting sanctioned oil worldwide. Observers report the purchase of many old tankers by undisclosed buyers after the wave of sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Risk of ageing ships

The CEO of Gard AS, a major insurance provider for the world’s fleet, warns that the presence of ageing ships like the Pablo in high-traffic areas poses a significant risk to both people’s lives and the marine environment, increasing the likelihood of accidents. The cause of the explosion is still unclear, but it may have been related to vapours from the ship’s oil cargo. The lack of evidence from the insurer for Pablo is hindering the process of cleaning up the mess, with no listing of the vessel in the industry’s insured database and no response from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency regarding insurance.

Safety regulations 

In cases where the owner of a ship cannot be identified, local authorities may seize the vessel and try to cover the costs, but it’s unlikely that selling what’s left of it would be sufficient. The history of the Pablo, an ageing tanker registered in Gabon and built-in 1997, highlights the risks associated with vessels like it, which fall outside safety regulations and are often used to transport sanctioned oil. It’s unclear whether the crew can provide any information about the ship’s owner.

Crew members missing

Data tracking shows that Pablo’s last two voyages delivered Iranian heavy crude to Chinese ports, which is sanctioned. The explosion highlights the risks of an ageing and unregulated fleet used to transport sanctioned oil. The search for three missing crew members has been suspended, and the tanker remains off the Malaysian coast, reminding us of the risks. The challenge for authorities is to ensure the safe movement of legitimate oil cargo while preventing accidents like this.


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Source: Yahoo