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Shipping lines unwilling to carry hydrogen peroxide from Bangladesh

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CHATTOGRAM : The inland container depots (ICDs) in the country are returning shipments of hydrogen peroxide to their respective factories as major shipping companies have refused to carry the chemical to various export destinations.

Samuda Chemical Complex Ltd sent consignments of hydrogen peroxide to the OCL container depot in Chattogram for shipping. But the shipment has been stranded due to fire and subsequent explosions triggered by hydrogen peroxide at BM Container Depot in Sitakunda on the night of 4 June.

On 7 June, OCL depot authorities sent an e-mail to Samuda Chemical authorities asking them to return shipments of the chemical to the factory.

Mamunul Islam, a senior official of Samuda Chemical, said the company exports about 4,000 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide worth around $2 million every month.

“Samuda has been exporting hydrogen peroxide to various countries for the last 15 years. The amount of export was increasing every year but the BM container depot incident has created a global negative impact,” he added.

Not only Samuda, but other companies like Tasnim Chemical Complex, SM Chemical Industries, HP Chemicals Limited, and Infinia Chemical Ltd are in a quandary over the shipments of hydrogen peroxide- a product that receives a 10% government subsidy.

Various shipping lines including ONE, OOCL, Goldstar have decided not to transport any container filled with hydrogen peroxide from Bangladesh, said President of Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association (BSSA) Syed Mohammad Arif.

Meanwhile, the authorities of Singapore Cargo Yard on 9 June expressed reluctance to accept hydrogen peroxide citing safety concerns and lack of yard capacity.

According to Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA) sources, some 111 containers of hydrogen peroxide have been trapped in the four depots since the BM depot fire.

Of the stranded containers, 49 are in the OCL depot in Chattogram, 31 in the Portlink Logistics depot, 24 in the Eastern Logistics, and 8 in the KNT depot.

A 20-foot container or TEU is loaded with 20 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide, which is valued at $10,000. Thus, around $111 million worth of hydrogen peroxide in ICDs is facing uncertainty.

Khandaker Masud Rana, Assistant Manager (admin), Eastern Logistics Ltd, said, “A discussion with the exporters is underway about their shipments in our depot. A meeting will be held with all the depot authorities at the Custom House on Sunday (12 June). The next course of action will be decided then.”

According to relevant sources, Hydrogen peroxide, produced in about six factories in Bangladesh, is exported to 14 countries including Vietnam, China, Korea, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, UAE and South Africa.

According to the Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau, hydrogen peroxide exports amounted to $23.3 million in the 10 months from July to April of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which is 23% higher than the entire period of the previous fiscal year.

Syed Mohammad Arif, President of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents’ Association, told, “The BM container depot fire created panic among shipping lines and foreign importers and they are now not interested to carry the product. I hope the matter will be resolved soon.”

Hydrogen peroxide is sent to 19 private ICDs before shipments like the readymade garments and other export products.

According to The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), Bangladesh exported hydrogen peroxide worth $13.9 million in 2020. The country ranks 17th in the export of the chemical worldwide which is mainly used in the bleaching and disinfection process of the textile, paper and pulp industry.

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