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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Natuna Sea KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 7
source LMIU
type D
volume 7000T
material
dead
link

Grounded off Batu Berhanti Beacon, in 01 11.31 N 103 53.10 E, 03 Oct 2000 4 cargo tanks damaged Abt 7,000 tonnes crude oil spilled Cargo offloaded and refloated with tug assistance 12 Oct and anchored off Batam Sub ar Singapore 20 Dec. Still repairing 07 Mar 2001 Sailed 22 Mar.


source CEDRE
type L
volume
material
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link http://www.le-cedre.fr/en/spill/natuna/natuna.php

Claims ship hit reef 3 m below surface, which seems unlikely.


source ERC
type D
volume 2058823G
material
dead
link

Grounding


source IOPCF
type L
volume 7000T
material
dead
link

Says she grounded in Indonesia?


source Singapore Spill Response Centre
type A
volume
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Early in the morning of Tuesday 3 October 2000, the 81,000 tonne tanker Natuna Sea was sailing eastbound through the Singapore Straits, preparing to make a stop in Singapore for taking on fuel oil bunkers. She had loaded her cargo of around 70,000 tonnes of Nile Blend crude oil at Al Bashayer Marine Terminal in Sudan and her ultimate destination was a port in China, where the full cargo was to be discharged.

The cargo she was carrying, Nile Blend crude oil, is unusual in several respects. It was one of the first exports of oil from a new oil field in Sudan and is a particularly heavy and waxy crude, with a pour point of around 33 Celcius. This would mean that if it spilled into the sea it would most likely nearly solidify, because in most places around the world the sea temperature is cooler than the pour point of the oil. This oil is also unusual in that it also has a high sediment content and needs to be carried in Tankers at quite a high temperature in order to prevent the sediments from settling out.

As the Natuna Sea was approaching the narrowest point of the Singapore Strait she was having to make alterations of her course in order to pass clear of other vessels and these alterations had taken her to the south side of the eastbound traffic lane. Unfortunately, in this area the are often very strong currents of up to 5 knots and these currents left very little time for the vessel to be manoevered clear of the rocks of Batu Berhanti. This is an area of very shallow water on the Indonesian side of the channel, opposite Singapore’s Sentosa Island, which is notorious for catching out unwary navigators and has become the graveyard of numerous vessels. On the 3 October 2000 during her fateful passage through the Straits, the Natuna Sea also became caught by the currents and ran hard aground on to the rocks, causing serious damage to the Ship’s cargo tanks and resulting in an immediate and major oil spill. On the bottom of the Ships hull, many of the centre and starboard side cargo tanks had been torn open and an estimate was later made that some 7000 tonnes of oil had spilled out into the sea.

Immediately the response swung into action in an effort to deal with the oil as effectively as possible, as well as minimise the possibility of any further leakage from the ship. Extensive chemical dispersant spraying operations were carried out, including the use of an airborne dispersant delivery system, and oil booms were deployed around the ship to try and contain the oil that was still leaking out of the damaged cargo tanks. Chemical dispersant spraying was also carried out from numerous vessels, including four belonging to Semco Salvage, the parent company of Singapore Oil Spill Response Centre (SOSRC), although it was quickly found that the dispersant was only really effective where the oil was still fresh. Oil recovery operations were also mounted, again close by to the ship where they could be most effective, although by the end of the first day of the incident there were several large patches of oil moving up and down the Singapore Strait with each change of tide, threatening both the Indonesian and Singapore shorelines with major pollution.

It was quickly becoming obvious this was a major oil spill incident and substantial resources were urgently needed, so the ship’s owner contacted Petroleum Association of Japan, with a request to utilise PAJ’s stockpile of equipment stored and maintained in Singapore by SOSRC. The lending Agreement was quickly signed and the stockpile was rapidly sent to location, adding substantially to the large quantity of equipment already deployed by SOSRC and various other organisations.

The spilled oil was by now rapidly forming large patches of semi solidified oil, many of them concentrated in the waters to the south east of Singapore. Although there were many oil patches, it proved relatively easy to contain them in booms by manoevering the boom deployment vessels in the same direction as the current and slowly overtaking the slicks. However, keeping the slicks contained and in one position was far more difficult due to the strong currents, and on several occasions oil was successfully boomed, only to be lost again when the tide changed and the current became strong. It is difficult to be certain, because one patch of oil looks very much the same as another, but it is very likely that some oil slicks lost to the current after being contained in booms were caught again when they returned at the next change of tide!

Eventually it was found that the only option was to capture a patch of oil in a boom and then allow the whole formation of boom, vessels and patch of oil to drift with the tide, only manoevering when necessary to avoid the shipping lanes or shallow water areas.

Of course, having perfected the technique of containing and keeping the oil, it then became a matter of urgency to recover and temporarily store it, before it would be lost again. As always, this brought with it a whole range of problems, not least of which was how to recover the by now very viscous oil, and how to temporarily store it nearby to the operational area. Eventually the oil patches were successfully brought up to crane and storage barges for recovery operations to get under way, although this also proved to be very difficult with many types of skimmer being tried before an effective solution was found. In addition to being very thick, the oil had also collected large amounts of debris during its time in the water, including tree branches, seaweed, coconut husks, garbage, oil drums and even an old refrigerator on one occasion! Many skimmers rely on oil flowing into them as they operate, but these slicks would not flow at all, having formed an almost solid mass.

The only solution was to use mechanical grab type skimmers and, although slow, the oil was slowly but surely recovered over several days for each slick contained in booms. The problem of storage was eventually solved by using sand barges, with their side panels sealed to prevent leakage, and the oil being recovered and dumped directly on to the barge’s deck, together with all the other garbage. Once safely stored on these barges, a small army of Indonesian labourers set to work to transfer all of what had been recovered into leak-proof plastic bags, for eventual disposal ashore into approved landfill sites. In all, it is estimated that around 500 to 700 tonnes was eventually recovered, or approximately 7% to 10% of what was spilled.

The rest mostly stranded on the shorelines of the nearby Indonesian islands and Singapore’s Sentosa island. Although these shores were impacted by quite a large quantity of oil, it proved to be relatively easy to remove, due to the viscosity of the oil being so high that it stayed on the top of the sand, rather than penetrating into it.

Chris Richards, Oil Spill Services Manager, Singapore Oil Spill Response Centre


source MPA
type D
volume
material
dead
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At 0615hrs today [20001003], a Panama-registered oil tanker Natuna Sea ran aground in Indonesian waters off Batu Berhanti Beacon at Latitude 01° 11.31'N and Longitude 103° 53.10' E in the Singapore Strait. The 51,095 gross tons (GT) Natuna Sea was east bound at the time of the incident.

The shipmaster reported that four of Natuna Sea's cargo tanks had been damaged. The affected tanks contain an estimated 40,400 tonnes of crude oil. The current estimated oil spilled is 7,000 tonnes. The oil was sighted to be moving south-westerly away from Singapore. No injuries of the 32 crew onboard have been reported. The vessel is in a stable condition and not obstructing traffic flow.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has activated its Marine Emergency Action Procedure (MEAP)'s Oil Spill Contingency Plan. The Indonesian Embassy and the Malaysian Marine Department have been informed of the incident. Relevant local agencies have also been notified and advised to take precautionary measures. The owner of Natuna Sea has activated the salvage company, Smit International.

UPDATE 2000-10-05

The anti-oil pollution work carried out since early this morning [20001005] has substantially dispersed the oil patches previously sighted in Singapore port waters near the Shell Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) and off the Eastern Anchorage. The oil patches were from the Natuna Sea, which had run aground in Indonesian waters off Batu Berhanti Beacon on 3 October 2000. Strong south-westernly winds of about 25 knots had pushed these patches of dispersant-treated oil into Singapore's port waters.

At about 1330hrs, the Sentosa Rangers informed the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) that small lumps of oil had washed up on Sentosa's beaches, and that workers have been engaged to clean up the oil. The MPA has deployed additional oil booms at Sentosa to prevent more oil from reaching the island's beaches as well as at the entrance to Marina Bay.

The aerial recce conducted at 1435hrs had spotted oil washed up on the beaches of St John's Island and Pulau Sakijang. Additional resources have been deployed by the MPA to combat the oil pollution.

Clean-up operations continue in the affected areas with the spraying of dispersants, surface agitation and recovery of treated oil. Two MPA flotsam retriever craft have been deployed to collect oil-contaminated flotsam in the Eastern Anchorage. Aerial reconnaissance of Singapore's port waters will also continue.

The ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of oil from the damaged tanks of the Natuna Sea is still in progress. So far, about 15,000 tonnes of oil have been removed from the vessel. The salvor estimates that a total of 35,000 tonnes of oil have to be removed from the vessel before it could be safely re-floated. Currently, there are eight pumps working to transfer the oil from Natuna Sea.

UPDATE 2000-10-18

As of 0730 hrs today, an early morning recce carried out by MPA patrol craft revealed that most of Singapore's port waters remained generally clean except for some light sheen. Workers continue to clean the affected areas off East Coast Park, Sentosa and St. John's Island.

The ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of the remaining oil from the Natuna Sea was completed at 0400hrs this morning. The salvors have refloated the ship at 0920hrs today. It is being towed to a safe anchorage off Batam. Oil booms are being laid near the Shell Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) area and the Sisters Islands as a precautionary anti-pollution measure during the refloating operation of the Natuna Sea.


source CTX
type D
volume
material
dead
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The Richards entry is by far our best source. Sounds like a navigation error, but one in which twin screw might have helped. Once you get yourself into a tight spot in a single screw tanker, it is very difficult to get out. You must maintain steerage way, which means a mimimum of 4 or 5 knots through the water, up to 9 knots over the ground in this case. If you try to turn, you have to worry about stern swing. If you try to go astern, the bow turns to port which would have made things worse in this case.

CTX rarely includes much material on spill response but Richard's description is such a rare and accurate depiction of the difficulties of recovering oil at sea, that we are had to include it. And this was under near calm conditions with oodles of equipment immdeitately at hand.

It is disappointing in a spill in which we have so much third party response, we know so little about the location and extent of damage. Need to get report of official investigation.