Friday, February 8, 2019

Mystery of Aframax Oil Tanker Seized by Armed Men and Now Released

26 Crew Left Unharmed as Refinery Ceases Production
Shipping News Feature
CAMEROON – There is an air of mystery about the seizure and subsequent release of the bulk tanker Barents Sea one of around 100 container ships and bulk and oil carriers on the Eastern Pacific Shipping fleet controlled by London based billionaire Idan Ofer. The 105,000 dwt ship has been anchored off the country's west coast near the Port of Limbe waiting to discharge after the refinery there shut down, reportedly for lack of crude oil.

The ship apparently arrived in mid-December reporting to be off the Moudi Terminal, but has not seemingly moved subsequently, the root of the problem apparently a dispute about money. Local reports state that the vessel’s owners are claiming around $1.1 million in charges, which include demurrage charges whilst anchored offshore.

The claim is against DSC Marine, which contracts purchase of crude for the publicly owned Sonara Refinery in Limbe and which Eastern Pacific Shipping says is responsible for the seizure by armed men of the Aframax tanker. In turn DSC Marine is accusing the shipping company of spreading disinformation.

The ship was seized last week by men reportedly armed with AK47’s then released on February 5, with DSC facing accusations that it was struggling to meet financial commitments. The crew of 26 consisting of citizens from India, Ukraine, China, Philippines and Turkey remained aboard during the incident. A statement from the vessel’s operators said:

“Eastern Pacific Shipping confirms that on 5 February 2019 our managed Singapore flagged vessel M/T Barents Sea was released by the Cameroonian armed militia which unlawfully seized it last week. The ship has now completed discharge and departed the port of Limbe. Thankfully all 26 of our crew are safe and unharmed.

“DSC Marine’s conduct and blatant disregard for local and international laws have proven to be futile. We sincerely hope that future disagreements can be resolved without resorting to hostile means.

“EPS wishes to thank the crew for their unwavering strength, resilience and professionalism throughout the dreadful encounter. We particularly would like to thank the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Republic of Singapore Navy, the various Embassies representing the ship’s crew as well as the Cameroonian authorities for their support.”