Nader Itayim and Adal Mirza of global energy and commodity price reporting agency Argus Media on Monday (25 January) published a summary on the arrest of an Iranian crude tanker and a Panamanian vessel suspected of carrying out illegal ship-to-ship (STS) bunker transfers in Indonesia:
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Indonesia said it has seized an Iranian crude tanker and a Panamanian vessel suspected of carrying out “illegal” ship-to-ship (STS) transfers in its waters.
The Horse, an Iranian-flagged very-large crude carrier (VLCC), and the Freya, a Panama-flagged VLCC, were seized off West Kalimantan province in the Indonesian part of Borneo on 24 January, according to the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla). Images circulated by the coast guard showed the two vessels moored side by side, next to an Indonesian coast guard vessel.
At 06:00 local time yesterday (23:00 GMT on 23 January), the Bakamla “visually detected two motor tanker vessels carrying out STS that were suspected to be illegal fuel transfers while deliberately covering the names of the hulls with cloths to fool Indonesian law enforcement officers,” it said.
The Bakamla said it tried to make contact with the crew of both vessels, but when they received no answer, they were given orders to board and search the tankers.
“Initial allegations were that the two tankers violated the right of transit passage” through the archipelagic sea lanes and “were carrying out illegal STS fuel transfers, not raising the national flags, shutting down the [automatic identification systems] AIS and the MT Freya was spilling oil,” the Bakamla said.
The nature of the alleged STS transfer is not clear. The Freya had disabled its AIS since 23 January and the Horse since 12 January.
The Horse — which is owned by Iran’s state-owned tanker company NITC — departed fully laden with approximately 2mn bl of Venezuelan Merey crude from the Jose terminal on 21 September last year, according to Vortexa. It then docked at Iran’s Jask terminal in November and was expected to discharge crude in Indonesia on 28 January.
The Bakamla said the two vessels have been taken to the Indonesian port of Batam near Singapore for “further investigation”.
Since coming under US sanctions once again in 2018, Tehran has increasingly turned to unconventional methods to sell its oil, often conducting shipments by state-owned vessels that turn off their AIS transmitters.
Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 26 January, 2021
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