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Incident with NORDINDEPENDENCE Tanker in Primorsk

Date of publication: 31 August 2020

On 26 August 2020, 11:52 a.m., in the course of unberthing and departure of the NORDINDEPENDENCE tanker from Berth No. 4 of the port of Primorsk, the hydraulic facilities (oil loading berths No. 3 and No. 4) as well as process equipment accommodated thereon and owned by Primorsk Commercial Port were damaged.

In the wake of the incident, the operation of oil loading berths No. 3 and No. 4 is limited.

Pursuant to Article 81 of the Merchant Marine Code, the captain of Primorsk Port detained the tanker in the port of Primorsk on 26 August 2020 for 72 hours until the shipowner provides sufficient collateral to secure the claims of Primorsk Commercial Port that arose on account of the damage caused to the port facilities and infrastructure.

As per the preliminary estimation, the damage caused to Primorsk Commercial Port by the incident exceeds RUB 600 million.

Primorsk Commercial Port filed a lawsuit in the Arbitration Court of the city of Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Region, applying for preliminary injunctive remedies. On this basis, the Court arrested the NORDINDEPENDENCE tanker on 28 August 2020 until the execution of the court ruling on the merits. 

The accident causing the damage of berth’s hydraulic facilities in Primorsk is the third such incident with tankers in four recent years. Primorsk Commercial Port has made repeated attempts to minimise the risks of such incidents by finalising the internal regulations: Guide for Vessels’ Handling on Marine Terminal Operated by Primorsk Commercial Port, which would specify certain requirements for persons in charge of ship unberthing and for the proper unberthing procedure, to avoid similar emergencies.  In particular, Primorsk Commercial Port proposed mandatory ship hauling rules that would require an employee of the marine terminal operator, knowing the bay operational rules and specifics to be admitted on board of any vessel departing from the berth. However, FAS initiated antimonopoly proceedings against the said Guide on allegation that it contains overstated requirements and that taking extra ship safety measures in the berth area does not fall within the competence of Primorsk Commercial Port. As a result, the above-mentioned provisions of the Guide were repealed.

Obviously, such emergencies could be avoided if the regulations developed at the port of Primorsk were enforced.

At present, the competent authorities are investigating the incident to identify the perpetrators.

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