Update: Carla Maersk tanker prepped up for salvage operation

By Accidents

Plans of salvaging the damaged Carla Maersk chemical tanker were initiated on Wednesday after it collided with the Conti Peridot, that was carrying a cargo of steel, in the Houston Ship Channel earlier this week on Monday.

AIS Video replay of the collision

The double-hulled Carla Maersk tanker was at the time transporting 216,000 barrels of gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether, also known as MTBE.

The U.S. Coast Guard has reported a narrow, MTBE sheen with a length of 2 miles that is coming from the tanker. The actual volume of the spillage, however, is has not been exactly determined as of the moment.

carla maersk Houston ship channel

Image: USCG

The appointed teams plan on using high density foam in order to suppress any vapor that is still coming out from the anchored vessel’s damaged tank. After which efforts of removing the liquid cargo are to be initiated in order to make it possible to tow the tanker to a proper safe berthing area.

Authorities have conducted several thorough air and water tests and they have concluded that there are absolutely no concerns regarding the public health or the environment as of the moment.

Conti Peridot was safely towed away earlier this week on Tuesday afternoon.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are currently conducting their investigation of the scene, examining both of the vessels’ steering, propulsion, weather conditions along with their respective maintenance records.

The Ship Channel has remained shut-off for all traffic from light 86 to the Fred Hartman Bridge. ExxonMobil commented on Wednesday that it had to cut down production rates at the United States’ second-largest refinery given the unfortunate circumstance that crude deliveries were being held up due to the accident which has resulted in the partial closure of the Houston Ship Channel for a third consecutive day.

Exxon further added that it was working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard as well as with the Port of Houston in order to manage resuming crude shipments to its 560,500 barrels per day (BDP) refinery in Baytown, Texas, which happens to sit along the busiest petrochemicals waterway in the country.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc has also stated that it is evaluating the impact of the closure on its 327,000 BPD joint-venture refinery located in Deer Park, Texas. LyondellBasell, however, has come out said that its 263,776 BDP plant situated in Houston has experienced no operational impacts related to the closure.

J.J. Plunkett, Houston Pilots port agent, commented that 43 inbound and 33 outbound vessels were waiting to move on Wednesday, which indicated a slight uptrend when compared to the 36 inbound and 28 outbound vessels that were reported on Tuesday. The cited numbers include all kinds of vessels.

Enterprise Products Partners has suspended all docking operations regarding ships and barges at its Oiltanking Partners unit located on the ship channel, applying force majeure retroactively to the shutdown that occurred on Monday.

One out of a total of two tankers that were transporting cargo of Mexican crude, which had been waiting outside of Houston since an unfortunate fog interference caused a hold-up in deliveries for a duration of four days last week, had started to move east to Nederland on Wednesday, as reported by ClipperData, which focuses on tracking crude movements. Sunoco Logistics Partners has a huge storage complex that is located in Nederland.

Traffic in and out of Galveston, Texas City and Bayport on the south end of the waterway has indicated no issues thus far and continues to operate as usual.
Plunkett commented that the authorities hope to get the traffic moving again by daybreak on Thursday.