Trafigura and The Minton Report

International oil-trader Trafigura knew that the waste they sent to Norway could be lethal. This is confirmed by a secret Trafigura-document, called the Minton-report. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation has obtained the report.

Montasje: Eksplosjon på Sløvåg/Jon Songstad
Foto: Wilheim Benidtson/Christian Kråkenes

In the report an expert analyses the Probo Koala waste on behalf of Trafigura. The oil-trader has chosen not to disclose the content of the report to the public. The content of the report shows that the waste contained hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and a wide variety of toxic substances.

The expert writes that the waste in worst case can cause deaths. The analysis is done in September 2006, only a month after the Probo Koala delivered waste in the Ivory Coast, and a month before Trafigura sent the Probo Emu to Norway with identical waste.

Possible gas-chamber

Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, Jon Songstad is shocked by the Minton-report. –If this had exploded without burning, the whole village of Sløvåg could have turned into a gas-chamber.

After the tank-explosion in Western Norway in May 2007, people in the village became ill. They vomited, had severe headaches and chemically red sore throats.

Based on information from the Minton-report, Songstad is convinced that the fire in the tank saved the population. H2S burned in the fire, and prevented deadly concentrations of toxic fumes leaking out.

Sworn to silence

The British newspaper, The Guardian, has also obtained a copy of the Minton-report, but according to a High Court ruling have until today not been allowed to mention it, report on it or in any way disclose that they have the document.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation received the High Court ruling and information about The Guardians situation directly from Trafigura's Norwegian lawyers. The information and the ruling was sent to us in an attempt to stop us from publishing this report on our web pages.

Communication with Trafigura

Trafigura has not been willing to comment on the content of the report. But on September 15th they sent us this e-mail:

« As mentioned in our e-mail of yesterday, Trafigura finds it improper to answer questions to the media as long as the criminal charges in Norway are still under investigation by Økokrim. However, certain of the additional questions and statements in your e-mail of this morning are biased and can not be left unchallenged. Trafigura is in process of producing a written statement as a response to the questions raised by NRK. We will forward this statement to you during the course of business tomorrow, and kindly ask that you refrain from publishing anything before having had the opportunity to carefully examine the response from Trafigura.

Your questions of today do also reveal the fact that you are in possession of a draft, preliminary expert opinion produced by Minton Treharne & Davies Ltd, and that you appear to be ready to disclose information from this report. Trafigura looks very serious upon this, as disclosing any information from this report would be a clear breach of confidentiality and privilege. The report is clearly privileged and confidential and was obtained unlawfully by whoever is responsible for it coming into your possession.

Please be aware that on Friday of last week, our clients sought and obtained an injunction in relation to this document and information contained in it against the Guardian newspaper and Persons Unknown, pending a further hearing. For your attention we have attached hereto a copy of the Court Order.

In the circumstances, we kindly ask you to confirm that NRK will not disclose or make reference to this expert report or its contents. We might add (although it is not directly relevant to your obligation not to publish a document which has been obtained unlawfully) that the document was, as we say, draft and it is clear from its text that it was produced generically without reference to the underlying evidence. We can also assure you that its generic conclusions have long since been wholly superseded by the analyses of the Probo Koala slops by independent experts.»

Trafigura charged in Norway

Oil-trader Trafigura is under police investigation in Norway, accused of illegal import of waste. The waste was brought to Norway on the Probo Emu in 2006, and is identical to the waste that Trafigura shipped to the Ivory Coast on the Probo Koala.

The Norwegian police have been investigating Trafigura for more than a year and a half, but so far nobody in the company has been willing to give statement or answer questions from the Norwegian police.

– We are surprised, and have the impression that Trafigura is not interested in assisting in the investigation, says Hans Tore Høviskeland, head of prosecution in Økokrim.