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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bacteria spoils gasoil shipments from Latvia

An unidentified form of bacteria spawned from oil tanks at the Latvian port of Ventspils is wreaking havoc on Russian gasoil shipments, so much so that traders are avoiding the port.

"We've stopped trading gasoil from Ventspils. Traders are getting scared", said a Western oil trader based in Moscow, citing one contaminated shipment which turned up in Rotterdam earlier this month. "We heard rumors of it a month ago, but no one would confirm it. Even now we talk to the port and local officials but get few answers".

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the port will close its oil facility in August for at least a month in an attempt to remedy the situation.

The Western oil source added that recent reports indicate that some bacteria has spread to rail tanks, a problem of particular note given that rail tanks here are not regularly serviced. If spread to rail tanks, the bacteria could eventually find its way to refineries.

Contaminated oil can reportedly be treated with chemical additives, which change the oil's color and leave a residue at the bottom of tankers.

Bacteria at the port, which according to the trading source "originated in tanks which hadn't been scrubbed in 20 years", could have far-reaching implications. Ventspils now supplies northern Europe with the majority of Russian gasoil. A sharp reduction in Russian shipments would hurt supply.