A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, in this handout image obtained by Reuters on August 10, 2020. French Army command/Handout via REUTERS

MOL Rejects ‘Seriously Flawed’ Forbes Report on Wakashio Grounding

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 5276
January 19, 2021

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has responded to a recent Forbes article about the Wakashio grounding that the Japanese shipping line says is misleading and seriously flawed.

The Forbes article, titled “Special Report: Explosive Documents Reveal BP Behind Toxic Mauritius Oil Spill“, attempts to connect the Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil being used by the ship to its July 25, 2020 grounding in Mauritius. It also accuses MOL of knowingly using “experimental” faulty fuel, supplied by BP, that had potential to cause engine failure.

The ship broke up after spending about two weeks on the reef, resulting in the release of some 1,000 metric tonnes of bunker fuel and creating an environmental catastrophe for the Indian Ocean island.

“MOL fundamentally disagrees with and rejects the analysis made in the article based on the misleading interpretation of unconnected information and comes to seriously flawed conclusions,” MOL said in its rebuke of the report. MOL was the charterer of the Panamanian-registered Wakashio at the time of its grounding.

“The cause of the incident is being investigated by local authorities and is expected to become public in the Mauritius courts in due course. MOL has and will continue to fully assist with such investigations and rejects any assertion that it has attempted to impede or hinder these steps.

“It has been established that no mechanical issues whatsoever were involved in the grounding which appears from early reports to have been solely due to safety and navigational issues. There have been no reports whatsoever that the Wakashio had any mechanical or fuel problems in the period leading up to the grounding and the article produces no such evidence,” the statement from MOL said.

BP has said previously that it “absolutely rejects the baseless allegations and insinuations contained in this article,” while admitting that it did provide the fuel for the Wakashio. “This is the limit of bp’s involvement with the vessel and the voyage in question,” BP said, adding that the fuel met internationally recognized standards for VLFSO, as verified by an independent inspection company appointed by MOL.

MOL in December published the result of its own internal preliminary investigation into the grounding, which squarely pointed to crew error as the most likely probable cause and revealing that the ship deviated close to the island to pick up cell signal.

In an emailed statement to gCaptain, the Forbes article author, Nishan Degnarain, accused MOL of misleading the public on the root cause and questioned why the company has failed to answer some key questions surrounding the accident, including why it has not yet released an analysis of the oil.

MOL’s statement continued:

“The Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) purchased by MOL as time charterer and loaded in Singapore was fully tested by our Fuel Quality Testing System which showed that the supplied oil was fully on specification with international standards including ISO-8217-2020. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that there were problems with the fuel oil or the use of that fuel in the main engine of the Wakashio that could have caused the incident.

“Furthermore there are numerous factual inaccuracies throughout the article in relation to MOL and other organisations and many unmerited allegations are made without evidence or justification. We are confident that these will not stand up to scrutiny…,” MOL said.

“To conclude, MOL sees no basis in fact for the analysis and unfounded conclusions in the Forbes.com article and totally rejects the unwarranted allegations.”

The wreck removal of the Wakashio is currently on-going as crews prepare to remove the stern section of the vessel. The bow section of the Wakashio was previously refloated and scuttled at sea in late August 2020.

We reached out to Nishan Degnarain who provided the following statement to us in response to MOL’s rejection of his report:

“I am highly surprised by MOL’s statement on both January 18 and on December 18 by the CEO of MOL, Junichiro Ikeda.  These statements are full of half-truths and mis-direction to deceive the public on the root cause of the grounding and oil spill. It is extremely irresponsible for MOL to be acting in this way, and the actions it recommends taking are only loosely connected to the root causes of what led to the grounding and oil spill of the Wakashio. Furthermore, MOL is impeding the investigation in Mauritius by withholding critical evidence vital to understand the root causes, as has been repeatedly pointed out in published articles,” Degnarain said.

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