Brazil adds four other tankers as suspects for oil spill

ATHENS/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - After initially naming only one ship, Brazilian authorities have added four more tankers as suspects in the investigation into the source of oil tarring its coastline over the past two months, according to a document on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: An oil spill is seen on 'Sitio do Conde' beach in Conde, Bahia state, Brazil October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

Brazilian investigators said last week that a Greek-flagged tanker named Bouboulina and owned by Delta Tankers Ltd was a suspect as the possible cause of the oil spill. Delta denied responsibility, saying the vessel arrived to its destination without losing any fuel or part of the cargo.

On Wednesday, Delta Tankers said in a statement that it had been notified of the investigation. The company also said Brazilian authorities named four other tankers as suspects: Maran Apollo, Maran Libra, Minerva Alexandra and Cap Pembroke.

Brazil’s Navy said it would not comment on the information.

Maran Apollo and Maran Libra are two VLCC (very large crude carriers), capable of carrying more than 300,000 tonnes of oil, both owned by Greek company Maran Tankers Management Inc.

According to information in the vessels tracking system at Refinitiv’s Eikon terminal, both tankers stopped in Venezuela and then passed near Brazil’s Northeast coast on their way to Asia in the last 180 days.

Maran Tankers Management did not immediately return a request for comment.

Minerva Alexandra is an Aframax tanker with capacity to carry around 100,000 tonnes. It is owned by Minerva Marine Inc, also a Greek firm, and apparently loaded oil at a port in the U.S. Gulf before heading to Asia, also passing close to Brazil’s Northeast coast on its way south.

Cap Pembroke is a Suezmax tanker with capacity for 156,000 tonnes, owned by Belgium’s Euronav NV. It seemed to be operating only routes in the Americas during the last six months, between Canada and Brazil with stops in the U.S. Gulf.

Both Minerva Marine and Euronav did not return requests for comment late on Wednesday.

From late August to the end of October, the mystery oil washed ashore in nine Brazilian states, according to federal police, closing hundreds of beaches and killing scores of animals. Volunteers trying to clean up the crude without proper equipment have also fallen sick.

Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Leslie Adler