300,000-tonne oil berth resumes operations
* Tanker discharging at a pace one third of normal rate
* Slow speed due to temporary pipeline installed after blast (Adds details of first VLCC discharging now)
HONG KONG/BEIJING, July 29 (Reuters) – China’s Dalian Port is receiving the first very large crude carrier nearly two weeks after a pipeline blast that spilled oil into the sea and forced its only 300,000-tonne berth to shut, state media said on Thursday.
The resumption of oil discharging from China-flagged tanker “Yuanshanhu” started at midnight on Wednesday but it would be at a slower pace than before the accident after PetroChina, operator of the Xingang oil terminal, installed a temporary crude line.
A Dalian-based shipping agent told Reuters that the new crude line only allowed 5,000 cubic metres of oil flow each hour. That compares with a normal rate three times as fast, which means further potential delays in offloading arriving vessels or more cargoes being diverted.
“The idea is to lighten up the big tanker first before moving to the nearby smaller berth which can offload about 8,000 cubic metres per hour,” said the shipping official.
The vessel carries Middle Eastern crude for PetroChina’s WEPEC refinery, the 200,000 barrel-per-day plant close to the site of the accident that was forced to cut production and halt fuel exports after the explosion damaged two main pipelines and a crude tank at the port.
Dalian Port (2880.HK) said earlier on Thursday it had resumed operations at all its terminal and ground facilities, including the largest berth of 300,000 dead weight tonnage (dwt), the port said in a filing with the Hong Kong bourse.
Dalian Port also said it would start operating in the near future a super large crude berth, No. 22, designed to handle 450,000 dwt tanker, which will be the country’s largest. (Reporting by Donny Kwok in Hong Kong and Chen Aizhu in Beijing; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)