Viva Energy Australia, a joint venture between energy trader Vitol and Royal Dutch Shell says they will be handing the product tanker Tandara Spirit back to Teekay after it finishes its current time charter in January. The ship is scheduled to sail from Melbourne to Singapore.
The company says the Tandara Spirit with an all-Australian crew, has previously been chartered to transport fuel from the Geelong Refinery to Adelaide, however they no longer need a dedicated vessel due to new contracts which have shifted much of the movement of fuel to land-based modes of transport.
“Viva Energy continues to focus on its goal of ensuring the long-term viability of Geelong Refinery. Selling more fuel from Geelong into the Victorian market is good for the refinery,” notes Viva in a posted statement.
The crew of the Tandara Spirit are not happy about the decision as it effectively means they will now be out of a job and are refusing to weigh anchor and head to Singapore.
In a report by Heath Aston at Australian newspaper The Age, 18 of the crew aboard the vessel have for the past two weeks staged a sit-in “in a dispute they say goes to the issues of national fuel security and threats to the marine environment posed by unsafe foreign-flagged vessels increasingly operating in local waters.”
Aston notes the Tandara Spirit is one of 5 all-Australian crewed product tankers left and that Viva Energy has already chartered the Vinalines Galaxy, an internationally-crewed vessel, to operate on the same route as the Tandara Spirit.
Viva Energy says they have “very little need to export product to other states. If required, spot charters will be used and Viva Energy must abide by the regulations under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012.”
For a more in-depth report on the situation, read Aston’s report HERE.