FSO J.NAT: Export of toxic vessel in breach of international law
Briefing Paper by NGO Shipbreaking Platform - 19 April 2020
The FSO J. NAT, formerly known as JESSLYN NATUNA, is a Floating Storage/Production vessel that was built in 1983. It was owned by Indonesian company PT Global Niaga Bersama.
According to information obtained by the Nexus3Foundation, the unit was hired by PT Pertalahan Arnebatara Natuna (PT PAN) since its deployment in the Udang Field in the north part of the Natuna Sea (Indonesia). PT PAN had a Technical Assistance Contract with PT Pertamina EP to run the field. PT Pertamina EP is one of the exploration & production operators having business agreements with SKK Migas (Special Task Force for Upstream Oil and Gas Business AcCviCes), representing the government of Indonesia.
Name: FSO J. NAT
Previous name: Jesslyn Natuna
IMO # 8100909
Type: FSO, Oil
Previous flag: Indonesia
According to maritime databases, the vessel was sold by PT Global Niaga Bersama to cash buyer SOMAP International Pte Ltd in August 2019.
SOMAP is a company specialised in trading end-of-life vessels to the beaches of South Asia, where ships are scrapped in a dirty and dangerous way. SOMAP does not operate ships other than on their last voyage to a South Asian breaking yard.
Cash buyers pay the shipping companies upfront for the end-of-life vessels. An end-of-life sale with the help of a cash buyer usually includes a change in flag and the registration of the vessel under a new name in an a^empt to conceal the origin of the vessel and take advantage of financial benefits.
On 19 September 2019, SOMAP changed the flag of the vessel from Indonesia to Palau and name of the vessel from Jesslyn Natuna to J. NAT. The Republic of Palau’s certificate of Registry was “issued for a single voyage for demolition under tow from Batam, Indonesia to Bhavnagar/Chittagong/Gadani”. See Annex I
Bhavnagar/Alang (India), Chittagong (Bangladesh) and Gadani (Pakistan) are the three South Asian beaches where the majority of end-of-life ships are scrapped each year.
Evidence (see Annex III) indicates Chittagong, Bangladesh as last destination of the vessel.
The sale for demolition is evidence of intent to dispose as required under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which defines end-of-life ships as hazardous waste because of their toxic components (Decision VII/26). Ships contain hazardous materials such as residue oils, PCBs, asbestos and heavy metals within their structure, and therefore fall under the category of hazardous waste.
Based on the type, age and geographical area of operation of the vessel, it is possible to assume that the J. NAT contains significant amounts of the aforementioned substances in its structures.
According to confidential sources, partial cleaning operations took place on board the vessel (see Annex II). Oil sludge waste was being processed on board, when the hired contractor PT Greenindo was ordered to stop activities after questions in regards to safety of entering tanks. The processed wastes (1500+ tons), suspected to be contaminated with mercury, were never brought onshore in Batam. Lab results on the mercury contaminations, requested by an anonymous party, will be revealed in approximately ten days.
It is important to note that the vessel’s steel itself is likely contaminated with mercury. Mercury is a naturally occurring element present in virtually all oil and gas fields. concentrations are especially high in the East Asian region. Mercury can contaminate the hydrocarbon processing equipment and ballast waters of offshore units. On board, it can also be found in thermometers, electrical switches, level switches and light fittings. Mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organisation. Exposure to low levels of mercury vapour can cause serious health problems. Exposure to high levels can deeply harm the nervous, digestive and immune systems and organs like lungs and kidneys.
The presence of hazardous waste on board the FSO J. NAT is also confirmed by governmental documentary evidence. According to a report issued by Dinas Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (DLHK - Office of The Environment and Forestry Department), the FSO J. NAT has sCll 60 tons of sludge oil, 1000 tons of slop oil and 500 tons of oily water onboard. Shockingly, the report itself states that the waste will not be processed in Indonesia, but will be brought to Chittagong, Bangladesh on board the vessel (see Annex III). It is public knowledge that Bangladesh does not have capacity to deal with any type of hazardous waste downstream (i.e. storage and treatment).
Among the Basel obligations required for hazardous waste to be legally exported is the requirement for NoCficaCon and Consent from all importing and transit countries which must include a full characterization of the quanCCes and types of hazardous materials on board (Article 6). The requirement for NoCficaCon and Consent seems not to have been followed. Furthermore, the mercury contamination that is likely left onboard the FSO J. NAT was not declared. Falsifying, or misrepresenting, documents is a criminal act under the Basel Convention and considered to be an illegal traffic as defined by the Convention's Article 9(1)(c).
The FSO J. NAT lek Batam in the early morning of 18 April. It is being towed by tug S CAS (IMO 8411047), operated by Indian company PrayaC Shipping Pvt Ltd.
MariCme databases link PrayaC Shipping to dozens of sales of end-of-life vessels to South Asian beaches in the last five years.
Port clearance for the vessels’ departure was given on 17 April. According to official documents, the captain of the S CAS is Mr Alexander Potapov. A screenshot of a WhatsApp exchange seems to indicate that the captain recently told the Coast Guard: “Nothing can stop jnat regarding anchor cut off, its very dangerous if any authority stop us in Indonesian water. So please please communication with Navy. Thanks.” See Annex IV
Rumour is that part of the waste could be sold in international waters (Off Port Limits) to an unknown buyer. The vessels will then head towards Bangladesh.
Several local and international organizations alerted competent authorities in Indonesia prior the illegal export of the FSO J. NAT for disposal to Bangladesh.
On 15 April, local NGO KPLHI sent an online report/complaint form to the KLHK (Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia).
On 17 April, NGO KPLHI send a new alert to the port authority Kepala Kantor Kesyahbandaran dan Otoritas Pelabuhan (KSOP).
On 17 April, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Basel AcCon Network and Nexus3 FoundaCon alerted Indonesia competent authorities (i.e. Basel Focal Point, Basel ConvenCon Regional Centre for South-East Asia, SKK Migas), urging them to halt the export of the FSO J. NAT.
To date, no action has been taken by authorities. New alerts will be sent to Bangladeshi authorities (being Bangladesh the import state) to prevent the beaching of the vessel.
This case resembles the recent infamous export of the mercury-laden vessel Yetagun from Indonesia to the Indian beach of Alang.
Relevant international legislation
For more information, please read the media briefing below: