Oil tanker runs aground in Indonesian waters

A TANKER carrying oil from sanctioned Venezuela has run aground near the Singapore strait, according to a ship tracking firm and Indonesian officials.

The Cameroon-flagged MT Liberty ship, carrying a cargo of 139,000 tonnes of oil, has been grounded since at least Dec 2 in Indonesian waters off the Riau Islands, regional naval base commander Anro Casanova said Saturday.

The grounding follows several similar incidents this year in the region involving so-called “dark fleet” ships, or vessels operating outside the official maritime sector, which the International Maritime Organisation called a “grave concern” for global shipping this week.

Satellite-based ship tracker TankerTrackers.com Inc said the MT Liberty was transporting oil from Venezuela, which the United States first imposed sanctions on in 2015 over the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

“For the second time in 14 months, yet another Dark Fleet tanker has run aground west of the Singapore Strait. The vessel has been identified as LIBERTY,” the firm said on social media platform X.

“According to our research, she’s laden with nearly a million barrels of Venezuelan fuel oil.”

Casanova said the Indonesian Navy deployed six tugboats during the highest tide on Saturday afternoon, but efforts to move the vessel were ongoing.

According to a preliminary assessment, he said, the ship ran aground while pulling anchor as it was about to move towards the dock of PT Oiltanking Karimun, a company that stores and handles petroleum goods and fuel oil.

US sanctions on oil exports from Venezuela, Iran and Russia have prompted operations of vessels lacking standard safety certifications, insurance and transparent ownership structures. — AFP

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