Fire at Gadani Shipbreaking Yard Injures Seven
On Sunday, another oil tanker caught fire on the beach at Gadani, Pakistan, injuring seven. Two workers are said to be in critical condition.
Fires are a regular occurence at Gadani, and another tanker burned during scrapping in July, reportedly trapping four workers inside the hull.
The fires follow after Pakistan's decision to lift an 18-month ban on the demolition of tankers, which was enacted in response to a series of deadly accidents. In November 2016, the FPSO Aces exploded and burned during demolition, killing 26 and wounding 58 more. A second fire broke out aboard the same vessel in November 2017.
Separately, a fire broke out on an unnamed LPG carrier in December 2016, and then a second time in January 2017, with five fatalities and an unknown number of missing workers during the second incident.
"Even jungles would have some laws, but there are none here," alleged labor leader Nasir Mansoor, in comments to Pakistan's Express Tribune earlier this year.
Market factors slow tanker sales to Pakistan
From the seller's perspective, the disposition of tankers at Pakistani breakers looked promising earlier this year, thanks to the lifting of the tanker beaching ban. Cash buyer GMS says that it was the first to return to the Pakistani tanker-breaking market after beachings resumed in May. However, by July, the firm said that yards' waterfronts were "stuffed" with tonnage because a cutting ban remained in place. Government-issued cutting permissions were finally released in late August, allowing Gadani's ship recyclers to start absorbing their inventory backlog.
In its latest circular, GMS says that Pakistani prices for tankers hover at about $440 per LDT, slightly less than what can be had at the Bangladeshi yards. But Pakistan's economic woes make the outlook for scrap steel pricing difficult to predict, and GMS reports that Pakistani shipbreakers are taking a "wait-and-watch" approach before committing to buy more tonnage.