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Oon & Bazul to shipowners: Measures to take before anchoring, conducting STS ops in Malaysian waters

Prakaash Silvam of law firm Oon & Bazul LLP shared with Manifold Times on steps shipowners should keep in mind before anchoring and conducting STS operations in Malaysian waters to avoid detention.

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Oon & Bazul to shipowners: Measures to take before anchoring, conducting STS ops in Malaysian waters

Prakaash Silvam, who heads the Shipping Department at Oon & Bazul LLP, shared with Singapore-based bunkering publication Manifold Times what shipowners should keep in mind before anchoring and conducting STS operations in Malaysian waters as well as steps to avoid ships being detained by local  authorities:

On 5 November 2023, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detained two vessels in Kapar waters, Selangor, for conducting STS oil transfer activities, without obtaining the due authorisation. Such enforcement operations are a frequent occurrence. Just in 2023 alone, more than 70 vessels have been detained so far for illegal anchoring and STS transfers.

What do shipowners need to do to avoid detention?

Pursuant to the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952, it is illegal to anchor in Malaysian waters without obtaining a permit. Section 491B of the ordinance mandates that the vessels must notify the director of the marine or port office, regarding their planned activities within Malaysian waters, and obtain due authorisation. Failure to do so results in detention by the Malaysian authorities.

In addition to the lack of awareness of what the local laws require, it is not uncommon for there to be a misunderstanding as to where Malaysia’s territorial waters begin. For instance, the territorial limits in Southern Johor waters, often inaccurately referred as ‘Singapore OPL East’, extend as much as 60 Nautical Miles from the main coastline in Malaysia. There are no “international waters” outside Singapore waters and vessels are either in Malaysian or Indonesian territorial waters.

Shipowners are recommended to take the following measures prior to anchoring:

• Take additional efforts to check their exact location, such as keeping the “1979 Malaysian Territorial Waters Chart” onboard. The Malaysian authorities rely on this chart to determine if a vessel has entered its territorial waters. The regular navigational charts of this area may not be accurate with regards to the national boundaries.

• Obtain information on the designated anchorage area, by contacting the relevant authorities.

• Appoint a local agent and get permission from local port authority prior to carrying out their intended act.

What is the process should a vessel be detained?

Once a vessel has been detained, owners can expect the following investigative steps to be taken by the MMEA:

The Master and Chief Officer/Chief Engineer are usually taken ashore to MMEA’s office to give their statements. They are questioned about their qualifications and experience, details of the voyage undertaken, and reasons for anchoring at that specific location. The MMEA confiscates the ship’s documents and the passports of the crew members.

Once the crew’s statements have been taken, the MMEA hands over the matter to the Marine Department to prosecute the matter and a hearing before the magistrate will be fixed.

As per section 314 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the owners are required to pay a bond in order to procure the release of the vessel. The bond is to secure any fine that may be levied on the shipowners at a later date.

After the bond has been paid and the documents of the ship are returned to the vessel, the vessel can sail. Subsequently, owners can choose either to admit liability or to dispute the charges. The maximum fine for each offence is RM 100,000 (approximately USD 24,000). The entire process of getting the vessel released can take up to a few weeks. Our Malaysian associate office, TS Oon & Partners, has substantial experience handling such matters and have represented numerous shipowners to release their vessels (some as quick as within a week of being detained) and substantially reduce the fines which are payable.

Related: MMEA detains two Malaysia-registered tankers for illegal STS oil transfer

Photo credit: Oon & Bazul
Published: 27 November, 2023

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Crime

Vietnam: Two ships seized over 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil

Vietnam Coast Guard said vessels were transporting various quantities of oil cargo: KG-91487- DR was transporting about 145,000 litres and KG-91602-TS transported about 25,000 litres.

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Vietnam: Two ships seized over 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil

The Vietnam Coast Guard on Tuesday (20 February) said it seized a total of about 170,000 litres of unknown origin diesel oil in an operation. 

Patrol boats belonging to Coast Guard Region 4 Command detected two fishing boats – KG-91487- DR and KG-91602-TS – displaying several suspicious signs.

Initial investigations found all vessels without invoices and documents proving legal origin of the oil material.

The vessels were transporting various quantities of oil material: KG-91487- DR was transporting about 145,000 litres and KG-91602-TS transported about 25,000 litres.

The authorities made records of administrative violations,and escorted the vessels to Fleet Port 422 in Phú Quốc city, Kiên Giang province for further investigations and handling in accordance with the law.

 

Photo credit: Vietnam Coast Guard
Published: 23 February, 2024

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Winding up

Xihe Holdings liquidators issue intended dividend notice to creditors

Creditors will need to produce proofs of debt to liquidators of the company by 8 March 2024 at 5pm, according to Government Gazette notice.

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RESIZED Drew Beamer

A notice to declare intended dividend of Xihe Holdings Pte Ltd to its creditors has been posted on Singapore’s Government Gazette on Friday (16 February). 

Xihe Holdings Pte Ltd and its subsidiaries are owned by the Lim family, who are also the owners of the embattled Hin Leong Trading.

Details of the notice of intended dividend are as follows:

Name of Company : Xihe Holdings (Pte) Ltd (In Liquidation)

Unique Entity No. / Registration No. : 199002021M

Address of Registered Office : c/o Grant Thornton Singapore Private Limited 8 Marina View #40-04/05 Asia Square Tower 1 Singapore 018960

Court : High Court of Singapore

Number of Matter : HC/CWU 40/2022

Last Day for Receiving Proofs : 8 March 2024 at 5:00 pm by email to [email protected] 

Name of Liquidators : Seshadri Rajagopalan, Paresh Tribhovan Jotangia and Ho May Kee

Address : c/o Grant Thornton Singapore Private Limited, 8 Marina View #40-04/05 Asia Square Tower 1

Singapore 018960

 

Photo credit: Drew Beamer
Published: 21 February, 2024

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Legal

Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

Three men, aged 32 to 40, were suspected to be involved in smuggling the subsidised oil estimated to be 6,000 litres, worth almost MYR 13,000 (USD 2,712).

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Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Monday (19 February) said it detained a fishing vessel and three local men who were onboard after they allegedly tried to smuggle 6,000 litres of diesel worth MYR 13,000 (USD 2,712) on 18 February. 

In the 11pm incident, the men, aged 32 to 40, onboard the ship were found with the diesel at 0.6 nautical miles north of Pulau Langgun, Langkawi. 

“During the inspection of the boat in question, officers found there was an additional space on the deck and covered with plywood in the intention of hiding it from authorities,” said MMEA. 

Malaysia: MMEA detains modified fishing boat suspected of smuggling diesel oil

“Officers then proceeded to dismantle the plywood and found two storage containers that were converted into extra oil barrels.”

“As a result of that discovery, the suspects are suspected to be involved in smuggling subsidised oil estimated to be 6,000 litres, worth almost MYR 13,000.”

MMEA detained the fishing vessel and men before they were brought to Bukit Malut Maritime Jetty for further investigations.

 

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 20 February, 2024

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