Indonesia seizes oil tankers from Iran and Panama

Irregularities generated by oil tankers.

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The Iranian-flagged MT Horse and Panamanian-flagged MT Freya oil tankers were seized in waters off Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province and were escorted to Batam Island in Riau Island province for further investigation, said Indonesian Maritime Safety Agency spokesman Wisnu Pramadita.

He added that the vessels are suspected of a variety of infractions, including:

– Failing to display national flags.

– Turning off their identification systems.

– Illegally anchoring.

– Clandestinely transferring fuel between ships.

– Oil spillage, affecting the seabed in a bloody manner.

– Sixty-one crew members from both vessels have been arrested.

In addition, the International Maritime Organization requires ships to use transponders for safety and transparency reasons. Crews can turn off the devices if there is a danger of piracy or similar dangers. But transponders are often turned off to hide a ship’s location during illicit activities.

Each of these tankers has the capacity to carry 2 million barrels of oil. The Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) MT Horse, owned by National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), was almost fully loaded with oil, while VLCC MT Freya, managed by Shanghai Future Ship Management Co, was empty.

The Iranian territory that has been characterized as possessing large oil and natural gas reserves, has found its overseas sales deeply affected by US sanctions after former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.

Iran’s regularly traveling fleet of state-owned tankers turn off their Automatic Identification System trackers to try to cover up where they deliver their cargo. Those AIS beacons, a security measure to let other ships know what is around them, can be tracked. The analysts say these ships often transfer their oil to other vessels, and use false excuses to then sell the oil.

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