Shen Neng could be off reef today

A salvage crew member inspects the chain holding the boom in place.
A salvage crew member inspects the chain holding the boom in place. SUBMITTED

ALL oil on a stricken coal carrier sitting on the Great Barrier Reef could be off by today.

The Chinese-registered Shen Neng 1 was carrying 975 tonnes of fuel oil when it ran into Douglas Shoal last Saturday, in waters off Rockhampton.

The ship has leaked three to four tonnes of heavy fuel oil on to the reef, but it was mainly lost on the day it ran aground.

Pumping of fuel oil from the Shen Neng 1 began on Friday at 10.56am and continued over the weekend, Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Patrick Quirk said.

“With weather conditions on our side, pumping has progressed through the (Saturday) night, however we expect variations in pumping rates as we continue,” Mr Quirk said.

“If current conditions hold, we anticipate finishing the operation by Monday, however safety, not speed, is our focus.”

Mr Quirk said a small amount of oily water had escaped from a ballast tank on the Shen Neng 1.

"It (the spill) was not related to the oil transfer operation," Mr Quirk said.

"The team shut off the ballast tank upon detecting the oily water.

"The small amount of oil did not require the deploying of dispersants and the booms were already in place."

Fuel from the vessel is being pumped on to the 50-metre Larcom bunker barge, which can carry up to 1500 tonnes of oil.

The Australian Federal Police has begun a criminal investigation into the grounding.

It comes following a request by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Meanwhile, three men have been arrested in Bowen in relation to a bulk carrier that entered a restricted area of the Great Barrier Reef on April 4.

Australian Federal Police executed a search warrant on the Panama-flagged vessel at Bowen, in north Queensland, on Saturday after receiving information from the GBRMP Authority and Australian Maritime Safety Authority investigators.

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