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Port of Rotterdam oil spill disrupts chemicals shipping

An oil spill at the port of Rotterdam is still preventing ships of all sizes entering and leaving the third petroleum harbour, port sources confirmed.

Booms have been moved to the southern area of the terminal, suggesting activity could begin to resume in some areas in the coming week.

The west section has been opened, according to a statement, but sources said shipping companies are unwilling to send in ships yet and ships are not being allowed to leave.

“They have opened a part of the harbour but the jetties are not cleaned and vessels have to be cleaned before they go out,” said a port-based source.

“Ships come in at own risk so a lot of ship owners are saying they will wait until the jetties are cleaned,” the source added.

The spill, which happened in the Botlek area of the Port of Rotterdam, has affected petrochemical material movements. Products such as ethanol, methanol, butanediol (BDO), vegetable oils, biofuel products and refinery products are affected, said sources.

“A washing facility has been operational in Geulhaven since Sunday evening to clean the over 50 inland vessels, with some 8 vessels being cleaned so far,” according to a Rotterdam Port Authority statement on Tuesday.

In the Botlek area the first sea-going vessel has been cleaned, while a further 14 are waiting to have oil removed, it said.

Odjfell said 217 tonnes of heavy fuel oil had spilled from the fuel tank inside their vessel on Saturday.

Approximately 150 tonnes of spilled oil had been cleared by Tuesday morning, the port authority said in a statement.

LyondellBasell operates a plant primarily producing butanediol (BDO) in the area, according to its website.

Methanol loading and unloading has also largely been put on hold, while ExxonMobil’s refinery has seen its operations affected.

Sources said the refinery has no room to bring in feedstock material, which could affect production.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson said they still expected to meet their contractual agreements.

Booms have been placed around the third petroleum harbour. The spill is affecting major ethanol storage facilities with at least two ships waiting and unable to load since the weekend.

“It is a difficult time at the end of the month for this to happen,” said a source, adding that key tenders and trades are scheduled for the beginning of July.

Work to clean up the spill is ongoing and is predicted to last “days if not weeks, or possibly even longer,” according to a port statement on Monday.

Source: ICIS (By Clare Pennington) (

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