Indonesian authorities have seized an Iranian-flagged very large crude carrier suspected of illegal ship-to-ship oil transfer in the country’s North Natuna Sea.
Arman 114 was detained on Friday for transshipping without a permit onto Cameroon-flagged S Tinos, a vessel fleet register Equasis lists as scrapped in 2018.
“The two supertankers tried to escape and authorities decided to focus their pursuit on Arman 114, assisted by Malaysian authorities as the vessel sailed into Malaysian waters,” head of Indonesia’s Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) Aan Kurnia told the press conference, adding that the vessel was spoofing its AIS to show its position was in the Red Sea.
Along with the vessel, which was also arrested by the UK Royal Marines in Gibraltar back in 2019 as Grace 1, authorities detained its Egyptian captain, 28 crew and three passengers.
TankerTrackers.com, one of the world’s foremost sources covering illicit movements of oil, said that Arman 114 departed the anchorages of Qeshm and Larak Islands in Iran in early June with around 1.9m barrels of crude oil after multiple STS transfers.
“She must have proceeded to the South China Sea via the Sunda Strait in Indonesia in order to avoid using AIS in the Strait of Malacca,” TankerTrackers.com told Splash.
As for the supposedly decommissioned S Tinos, The Samir Madani-led platform identified the vessel as the Laetitia Ventures-owned 2000-built Lilu, which has visited Venezuela a total of eight times since sanctions took effect in 2019.
“It is very common for tankers in Venezuela to recycle names of dead vessels because PDVSA uses them as aliases in their documentation, which has a tendency of leaking to journalists. The vessel is actually pinging on AIS off the southern coast of Vietnam, as corroborated by satellite imagery taken just two days ago,” Madani said.
In 2021, Indonesia captured Iranian and Panamanian flagged ships on similar grounds. An Indonesian court sentenced the captains of the two ships to two years probation.