Navy prevents crude oil transfer

… in Madeira waters

Crude Oil tankers

The Diario reports that the Portuguese Navy patrol vessel ‘Mondego’ prevented, yesterday, August 15, the transfer of crude oil between ships in the Economic and Exclusive Zone of Madeira.

According to the statement sent by the Navy’s Communication Office, “in the daily monitoring carried out by the Maritime Operations Centre of the Navy of the maritime space of national interest, looking after the interests of Portugal, this Sunday detected the suspicious movement of two crude oil tankers within of waters under national jurisdiction”.

The NRP Mondego will then have gone to the location, “about 200 nautical miles, the equivalent of more than 370 kilometres, from the island of Madeira”, to “monitor the interaction of the two tankers, the ‘Crystal Rose’ and ‘Christmas 7’. According to the Navy, both vessels belong to the flag of Panama, with the owners being the Marshall Islands and China, respectively.

“The ships were close to the northwest limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone of Madeira” and “they appeared to have a navigation pattern that indicated preparations for the practice of refuelling at sea and transferring crude oil between ships, with the NRP Mondego approaching and establishing communications with them”, explains the note according to the same source, “‘Cristal Rose’ assumed that it was awaiting instructions to carry out the activity of transferring crude oil, having been informed that Portugal, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, does not authorize refueling activities in the national Exclusive Economic Zone, as they entail a potential risk for the occurrence of pollution at sea”.

The ship, after being questioned, announced that it would depart from the EEZ and move to Gibraltar, and the Navy continued to monitor this movement to ensure compliance with the established rules. The ‘Natalina 7’, which was about 50 miles from the first, was also intercepted by the NRP Mondego, and the rules established within the national EEZ also communicated. The ship, after being warned left the waters of Portuguese jurisdiction, maintaining a westward course, and is currently outside the EEZ in Madeira.

It is recalled that the Portuguese State, through the Portuguese Navy, guarantees compliance with the law in maritime areas under national sovereignty or jurisdiction, therefore “it does not allow the development of this type of activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone, given the risk of crude oil spills which it entails”.

COVID-19 in Madeira: updates can be found in an earlier post – updated this morning

Navy prevents crude oil transfer 5

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4 thoughts on “Navy prevents crude oil transfer”

  1. I have never heard of this type of activity before, could understand it,if it was trying to side step an embargo, but both these ships are under one flag of convenience and it would be,paperwork that shows where oil came from ( and analysis of the oil) so its bewildering why they would transfer load at sea, unless changing destination and one ship too big to dock, so transfer part of load to smaller ship.

    • STS transfer is not uncommon and is carried out for many reasons, some legitimate and some that seem less so.
      Common reasons include, lightening the weight of a load to enable it to access harbour, change of ownership of the oil, for example if all or some of the load is purchased en route, transfer of fuel (bunkering) is another reason. More controversial reasons include that of avoiding sanctions. Many of the countries which have now, or in the past, had sanctions put on them are major suppliers. Take the current example of Russia. Since the start of the Ukraine war sanctions have been placed on the purchase of oil from them. However, that supply has to come from somewhere and since much of Europe, for example, have agreed to the sanctions and don’t wish to be seen to break them, they can buy “destination unknown” oil at sea and transferred or mixed en route.

    • Seems maybe I was right, avoiding embargo. Just goes to show, make something illegal and regardless of cost or complications, there will be a way round it,usually driven by greed or back handed government involvement.


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