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Iran asks Indonesia to clarify seizure of tanker accused of unlawful oil switch

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JAKARTA: Iran has requested Indonesia to offer particulars in regards to the seizure of an Iranian-flagged vessel, Iranian Overseas Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh mentioned on Monday (Jan 25), a day after Jakarta mentioned it had seized Iran and Panama-flagged tankers in its waters.

Indonesia mentioned on Sunday its coast guard had seized the Iranian-flagged MT Horse and the Panamanian-flagged MT Freya vessels over suspected unlawful oil switch within the nation’s waters.

Khatibzadeh mentioned that the seizure was over a “a technical subject and it occurs in transport discipline”.

“Our Ports Organisation and the ship proprietor firm want to discover the reason for the problem and resolve it,” Khatibzadeh informed a televised weekly information convention.

Coast guard spokesman Wisnu Pramandita mentioned the tankers, seized in waters off Kalimantan province, might be escorted to Batam island in Riau Island Province for additional investigation.

“The tankers, first detected at 5.30am native time hid their identification by not exhibiting their nationwide flags, turning off computerized identification methods and didn’t reply to a radio name,” Wisnu mentioned in an announcement on Sunday.

Wisnu informed Reuters on Monday that the ships have been “caught red-handed” transferring oil from MT Horse to MT Freya and that there was an oil spill across the receiving tanker.

He added that 61 crew members onboard the vessels have been Iranian and Chinese language nationals and had been detained. Indonesia’s international and vitality ministries didn’t instantly touch upon the matter.

The Worldwide Maritime Group requires vessels to make use of transponders for security and transparency. Crews can flip off the gadgets if there’s a hazard of piracy or comparable hazards. However transponders are sometimes shut down to hide a ship’s location throughout illicit actions.

Each the supertankers, every able to carrying 2 million barrels of oil, have been final noticed earlier this month off Singapore, transport information on Refinitiv Eikon confirmed.

Very Massive Crude Service (VLCC) MT Horse, owned by the Nationwide Iranian Tanker Firm (NITC), was virtually totally loaded with oil whereas VLCC MT Freya, managed by Shanghai Future Ship Administration, was empty, the info confirmed.

NITC was not instantly out there for remark.

A search by Reuters on Chinese language firm listing discovered that the registered workplace handle of Shanghai Future Ship Administration got here below one other agency named Shanghai Chengda Ship Administration. A number of calls made to the workplace went unanswered.

Iran has been accused of concealing the vacation spot of its oil gross sales by disabling monitoring methods on its tankers, making it troublesome to evaluate how a lot crude Tehran exports because it seeks to counter US sanctions.

In 2018, former President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear take care of six main powers and reimposed sanctions aimed toward slicing Tehran’s oil exports to zero.

Iran despatched the MT Horse vessel to Venezuela final 12 months to ship 2.1 million barrels of Iranian condensate.

Over the previous few months, MT Freya has delivered two crude oil cargoes totalling about four million barrels into Qingdao port on the east coast of China and northeast Yingkou port, mentioned Emma Li, a senior crude analyst with Refinitiv.

The Qingdao cargo was declared as Higher Zakum crude produced within the United Arab Emirates, mentioned Li, who tracks China-destined crude oil shipments.

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