PetroVietnam’s shipping unit has rejected a report by a pollution tracking organisation that its chemical tanker could have been the source of a suspected oil slick off Brazil.

The Vietnamese company’s PetroVietnam Transportation Hanoi subsidiary said its 19,800-dwt PVT Sunrise (built 2011) had no cargo at the time, and there was no evidence that oil leaked from the vessel.

TradeWinds reported on 9 February that SkyTruth identified the ship as the possible source of a 170 square kilometre oil slick off the coast of Brazil’s Amapa state.

In an interview with TradeWinds’ Green Seas podcast, SkyTruth chief executive John Amos called the ship a “very high-confidence” match.

But the PetroVietnam unit, also known as PVTrans Hanoi, said the PVT Sunrise was on a ballast voyage from Aratu, Brazil, to Trinidad and Tobago at the time the oil slick appeared on satellite imagery in September.

The shipowner said it was first made aware of the spill on 7 February, when a TradeWinds reporter contacted the company about the SkyTruth report.

It immediately launched an investigation.

“Analysis of the vessel’s relevant logs and data systems confirms that the vessel had not suffered any loss of fuel oil,” said PVTrans Hanoi.

“Indeed, there is no evidence that the vessel experienced a spill of any type during its voyage nor performed any operations resulting in an overboard discharge.”

PVTrans Hanoi said the ship did transit the area of the alleged spill on 18 and 19 September, but no incidents were reported on board the vessel and watchstanders reported no oil slick on the ocean’s surface.

Some in shipping have also raised questions about whether a chemical tanker of this small size, with no cargo on board, could cause a spill that stretches over the equivalent of 24,000 football pitches.

As TradeWinds has reported, Brazilian Environment and Climate Change Ministry executive secretary Joao Paulo Capobianco has said that the government is investigating the slick, after environmental group Arayara Institute used the SkyTruth data to alert officials to the suspected pollution.

“PVTrans Hanoi can also confirm that neither the vessel nor the company has received any enquiries from any Brazilian government authority or any other group in relation to the alleged spill or these accusations of the involvement of their vessel, PVT Sunrise,” the Vietnamese company said.