Guidance to Loading Coal in Kalimantan

by Aug 12, 2023Binoculars, Bulletin0 comments

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Kalimantan is a region in Indonesia that is known for its significant coal reserves and mining activities. “Kalimantan Coal loading for vessel” refers to the process of loading coal onto a vessel (such as a cargo ship or a barge) in the Kalimantan region for transportation to other destinations, often for export to various countries.

In Kalimantan, the primary coal-related activities revolve around mining and extraction, processing and preparation, and the subsequent loading of coal onto vessels for export.

Recently, there has been a substantial surge in global coal demand, leading to a considerable upswing in coal shipments being exported from Kalimantan Island. However, this uptick in shipments has introduced challenges for shipowners, particularly due to the unfamiliarity of some Kalimantan ports and their operational procedures.

Consequently, we are formulating this comprehensive guideline to assist owners in efficiently loading coal in the Kalimantan region.

A. Recognizing the Loading Point

Guidance to load coal at Kalimantan
Photo source: Unsplash

Several major ports in Kalimantan, Indonesia, are commonly used for loading coal for export. Some of these ports include:

  1. Tarakan, North Kalimantan
  2. Pulau Bunyu, North Kalimantan
  3. Tanah Kuning, North Kalimantan
  4. Muara Pantai, East Kalimantan
  5. Sangatta, East Kalimantan
  6. Bontang (b), East Kalimantan
  7. Kaliorang, East Kalimantan
  8. Lubuk Tutung, South Kalimantan
  9. Muara Berau, East Kalimantan
  10. Muara Jawa, East Kalimantan
  11. Balikpapan (b), East Kalimantan
  12. Adang Bay, East Kalimantan
  13. Tanjung Pemancingan, South Kalimantan
  14. NPLCT (b) (North Pulau Laut Coal Terminal), South Kalimantan
  15. IBT (b) IBT (Indonesia Bulk Terminal), South Kalimantan Port facilitates coal loading and transportation for export purposes.
  16. Bunati, South Kalimantan
  17. Muara Satui, South Kalimantan
  18. Kintap, South Kalimantan
  19. Asam Asam, South Kalimantan
  20. Jorong, South Kalimantan, Supporting coal loading and transportation for export purposes, Jorong Port facilitates the coal export trade.
  21. Taboneo, South Kalimantan
  22. Kumai, Central Kalimanan

These ports play a crucial role in the coal export industry in Kalimantan, and their facilities are designed to handle the loading of coal onto vessels efficiently. It’s important for shipowners and coal producers to work closely with these ports to ensure smooth and successful loading operations. Cargo operators mostly carried out at the anchorage except for those marked with (b) are performed alongside.

Additionally, we acknowledge the reassuring state of port security. Notably, there have been no reported cases of piracy or hijacking in recent years. This provides a sense of security for vessel operations in the region.

B. Familiar With the Ship to Ship Operation

Guidance to load coal at Kalimantan
Photo source:

In recent years, we’ve observed a number of files or claim related to stevedore damage to the vessel’s crane and collision/contact incidents between the vessel and the transshipment barge during loading operations. These incidents can often be attributed to factors such as human error and adverse weather conditions, which have proven to be contributing elements.

Hence, opined that Ship-to-ship (STS) operations can indeed pose challenges for shipowners, especially in regions like Kalimantan where major ports employ STS due to draft restrictions. In Kalimantan, there are two primary STS methods commonly used:

  1. Direct STS with Transhipment Barge:
    In this method, a transshipment barge is positioned alongside the vessel. The loading operation is executed using the vessel’s own crane. The barge serves as an intermediary storage platform where coal from the mine is brought and temporarily stored before being loaded onto the ship. This method is suitable for areas where the port’s draft might not allow larger vessels to approach. The loading process typically takes around 5 to 7 days, depending on cargo quantity and availability. The use of the vessel’s crane for loading introduces a degree of flexibility, but it can also influence the overall efficiency of the process.
  2. Floating Loading Facilities (FLF):
    FLFs are specialized floating structures equipped with loading equipment. In this method, the FLF is moored alongside the vessel, and the loading operation is conducted using shore loaders. The use of shore loaders can enhance the efficiency of the loading process compared to direct STS, leading to shorter loading durations. This method can provide advantages in terms of faster loading times and potentially more streamlined operations due to specialized loading equipment. However, the availability and capacity of suitable FLFs may impact the feasibility of this method.

Each of these methods has its own benefits and challenges. Factors like draft restrictions, cargo quantities, weather conditions, availability of equipment, and overall operational efficiency play a role in the decision-making process for selecting the appropriate STS method. Shipowners and operators need to carefully evaluate the selection of the STS method to adhere the safety of the vessel along with the cargo.

In addition, given to the significance of weather conditions in these situations, we recommend that vessel operators exercise heightened vigilance in monitoring the weather. This will allow for timely responses and preventive actions to avoid potential incidents. Being proactive in maintaining a strict lookout for any adverse weather changes will be crucial in mitigating risks during loading operations.

C. Coal Cargo Characteristic

Coal size Kalimantan
Photo source: Unsplash

In accordance with the IMSBC Code, bulk coal cargo shipments are categorized as “Group B” and/or “Group A & B.” It’s widely acknowledged that bulk coal cargoes often contain a significant moisture content, typically averaging around 25% to 35%. As a result, some shippers in Kalimantan have begun declaring their cargo as Group A & B. This is sometimes based on contractual obligations rather than the actual cargo condition itself.

However, it’s important to note that coal cargoes containing primarily particles less than 5mm (constituting around 80% of the cargo) are required to be declared as Group A & B as specified by the IMSBC Code. This classification is due to the potential for liquefaction. Based on this, if the cargo particles are predominantly larger or equal to 5mm, preventing liquefaction, it should be classified as Group B. Yet, achieving the exceptions can be challenging: no more than 10% of the cargo can be less than 1mm, and no more than 50% can be less than 10mm. Both criteria must be met. Without a cargo certificate displaying the particle distribution meeting these criteria, the default classification becomes Group A & B, necessitating the establishment of TML and FMP for safe loading. Loading cannot commence without either of these documents.

Traditionally, coal shipments in Kalimantan were often conducted using uncovered barges. These barges feature drain holes around the steel sideboards, allowing rain-exposed cargo to naturally flow away. Despite cargo being declared as Group B, inspections revealed that the predominant cargo particles on the nominated barges were contrary to this. Extensive tests and examinations were conducted, revealing a lack of TML and FMP certificates required by the IMSBC Code. Consequently, for safety reasons, the shipment was canceled.

In such scenarios, the involvement of experienced surveyors, particularly for precautionary surveys, becomes crucial. Surveyors are essential for onboard cargo observations and inspections. We stand ready to assist our members, providing necessary professional support in such cases.

According to the IMSBC Code, coal cargoes may emit methane, a flammable gas. An explosive atmosphere can arise from a methane/air mixture containing 5% to 16% methane, ignited by spark or flame. Methane, being lighter than air, can accumulate in upper cargo spaces or enclosed areas. If cargo space boundaries are not airtight, methane may infiltrate adjacent spaces.

Furthermore, weathering conditions from stockpiling to standby at the port, especially for coal transported via open barges, significantly impact cargo condition. After loading onto open barges, awaiting shipment coal is often stored in barges close to anchorage areas, exposed to wind and rain. This can promote self-heating, with barge-contained coal sometimes exceeding 55°C. Master awareness of such risks and cargo identification before loading is crucial.

Self-heating coal can lead to spontaneous combustion. The specific thermal characteristics of Kalimantan’s low-grade, high-ash, and sulfur-content sub-bituminous coal make it susceptible to spontaneous combustion. A precautionary survey is essential to assess the cargo’s condition prior to loading, in compliance with the IMSBC Code.

Given the rise in cases involving self-heating coal cargoes, we recommend shipowners and P&I Clubs engage experienced surveyors for pre-loading assessments. Surveyors will inspect cargo jointly, ensuring no significant self-heating issues, cargo suitability for loading, satisfactory vessel arrangements, and compliance with the IMSBC Code. Additionally, they will evaluate cargo condition and provide suitable recommendations to the Master.

At Enambelas, as one of reputable P&I surveyor in Indonesia which cooperate with the SPICA Services Indonesia, we possess expertise in Kalimantan coal handling. For inquiries related to coal handling, please contact

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