Arctic and Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO): Learnings from the Sanchi Oil Tanker Disaster

February 3, 2018
Polar bear starving in the Arctic

The Arctic is one of the world’s most pristine and delicate environments, and one of the most imperiled by climate change. To make matters worse, profiteering by the shipping industry is spreading a dark shadow over this amazing landscape. As the Arctic sea ice melts, shipping companies eager for shorter routes and larger profits are increasingly using Arctic routes and burning one of the world’s dirtiest fuels, heavy fuel oil (HFO) to power their ships.  HFO is highly viscous (very thick – think tar or blackstrap molasses). On land it is classified as hazardous waste. And because HFO is a waste product, it is a very cheap fuel for the shipping industry. Using HFO in the Arctic is a disaster in waiting, as the recent events in the South China sea have demonstrated.