Greek Tanker Manager Denies Connection to Oil Leak Tarring Brazil’s Beaches

November 4, 2019

The manager of an oil tanker being probed by Brazilian authorities in connection with an oil spill off the country’s coast has found “no proof” of the vessel conducting activities that may have led to leaks on a journey between Venezuela and Malaysia.

In a statement sent to Reuters on Saturday, Delta Tankers Ltd, who manages the Greek-flagged Bouboulina ship, said a full search of the material from the cameras and sensors that all their vessels carry revealed no evidence of the tanker “having stopped, conducted any kind of ship-to-ship operation, leaked, slowed down or veered off course, on its passage from Venezuela to Melaka, Malaysia.”

Delta Tankers reiterated the vessel sailed from Venezuela in laden condition on July 19, heading directly, with no stops at other ports, for Melaka, Malaysia, where the tanker discharged its entire cargo without any shortage.

Brazilian authorities on Friday claimed that a Greek-flagged ship carrying Venezuelan crude was the source of the crude oil tarring Brazil’s coastline over the past two months.

The Brazilians said the tanker appears to have spilled the crude about 700 km (420 miles) off Brazil’s coast around July 28-29, after loading the oil in Venezuela.

The Navy said on Saturday that oil was spotted and was being removed by cleanup teams on Santa Bárbara island, which forms part of the Abrolhos archipelago, an unique place in the Atlantic for its biodiversity.

The prosecutors conducting the probe said they found strong evidence that the company, the captain and the vessel’s crew failed to communicate to authorities about the oil spill and or release of the crude oil in the Atlantic Ocean.

The contradicting accounts, along with the execution of police search warrants in Rio de Janeiro, brought a dramatic twist into the causes of the mysterious oil spill that has stained tropical beaches along 2,500 km of Brazil’s coast.

Brazil’s solicitor general said the country would seek damages in the case, which has hurt tourism and fishing communities in Brazil’s poorer northeast region.

On Saturday, Delta said cameras and sensors that all its vessels carry as part of their safety and environmental policies, monitor activity on board and alongside vessels, as well as course alternations, stoppages, and speed data.

The company said the material obtained from an analysis of its security equipment will be shared with Brazilian authorities when they contact the company regarding the investigation, adding that no such contact has been made.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou in Athens; writing by Ana Mano, editing by Franklin Paul)

Photograph: In this Sept. 25, 2019 photo released by the Sergipe state Government, spilled oil lays on the beach in Sergipe state, Brazil. Oil sludge started tarring Brazil’s northeastern coast at the beginning of September, authorities say, and have now reached 61 municipalities in nine states, contaminating over 130 beaches. Photo credit: Sergipe State Government via AP.

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