A tanker carrying oil from Venezuela ran aground in Indonesian waters near the Singapore Strait, Indonesian officials said Saturday as they tried to free it.
Anro Casanova, commander of the naval base in the region, said that the Cameroonian-flagged ship MT Liberty, carrying a cargo of 139,000 tons of oil, ran aground last week near Pasir Panjang in the Riau Islands region.
According to satellite ship tracking website TankerTrackers.com, the ship was carrying oil from Venezuela, which is under sanctions due to the brutal suppression of protests in 2015.
Casanova said efforts to free the ship continued Saturday afternoon, with the Indonesian Navy deploying six tugboats to take advantage of the high tide.
According to preliminary information, the ship ran aground while it was weighing anchor to head towards the PT pier. Oiltanking Cremon, a petroleum products storage company.
As a precaution, “anti-oil barriers have been deployed around the ship to prevent oil from spreading into the surrounding waters,” Casanova said in a statement.
This is a new incident involving a so-called “ghost” ship, which operates outside the official maritime sector, a topic that the International Maritime Organization described this week as “of great concern.”
The Torba, another Cameroon-flagged ship carrying oil from Russia, a country also under sanctions, was discovered floating off the Indonesian coast last month.
Earlier this year, a ghost tanker called Pablo, suspected of carrying Iranian oil, caught fire off the coast of Malaysia.
US sanctions on oil exports from Venezuela, Iran, and Russia have incentivized the operation of a large fleet of ships that lack standard safety certifications, insurance, and transparent ownership structures.
The growth of the secret fleet of oil tankers used by sanctioned countries raises fears of accidents that could lead, in particular, to oil spills.