The bulk carrier Top Trader caught fire at Jose Terminal in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. The vessel was loading petcoke (petroleum coke) from the state-run PDVSA at the oil terminal, but the hot material inflamed in at least three of the cargo holds. The crew added water to the holds earlier this week, but the problem could not be solved. The accident is reported to the local authorities and was ordered safety inspection of the vessel, which might suffered some structural damages of the hull. The charterer and the ship broker were informed about the incident and currently keeping in communication with the crew and local authorities.
The Venezuela’s exports of petroleum coke, derived from the country’s heavy oil, was halted at its Petrosanfelix terminal. The authorities are working close to the vessel’s crew to resolve the problem, but not sure how the high temperature of the petcoke affected the hull. Situation is unclear so far, as authorities do not release official statement for the accident.
The petroleum coke is usually transported from the production facilities to the terminal at a high temperature, but the shippers do not accept to load it if detect fire.
Venezuela is a prominent petroleum coke exporter, which is produced by joint ventures between PDVSA and foreign firms at four crude upgraders in the vast Orinoco belt, the country’s main oil producing region.
The bulk carrier Top Trader (IMO: 9216963) has overall length of 190.00 m, moulded beam of 32.00 m and maximum draft of 7.50 m. The deadweight of the vessel is 52,403 DWT and the gross tonnage is 30,053 GRT. The bulk carrier was built in 2001 by Tsuneishi Tadotsu Factory in Japan. The charterer of the ship is US company Koch Industries.