Following Legal Threat, Tanker Operator Wants To End Dispute
World Tankers Management (WTM) is striving to end a row with the Cambodian government after the country’s Energy Ministry filed a complaint against the MT Strovolos operator in the country’s local courts.
The tanker was moored and then connected to a production barge based next to an oil platform in the Apsara oil field Block A of the Cambodian offshore reserves. The government says it was sailed out of Cambodian waters without seeking permission from relevant authorities or taking customs clearance. It had also switched off the automatic identification system for about two days until it had completely left the Cambodian waters. It is now held by Indonesian authorities who have been questioning the crew members and the captain.
Last month, WTM released a statement saying that it believed that the cargo belonged to the Strovolos charterers. WTM also mentioned that the latter had failed to pay for the hire of the vessels or supply it with fuel when the levels had been significantly low.
In its 25 August statement, WTM stated that the charterer’s default indicated that WTM and the crew had no realistic choice. It could only sail the ship to the nearest port to refuel for the safety of the cargo, crew, and the vessel.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy on Monday declared its statement that disputes related to the payment of hire are between the vessel’s managers/owners and the charterer. Therefore, it does not involve Cambodia; MT Strovolos had illegally departed from Cambodian waters and had decided to evade the detection, entering Indonesian waters where it has been detained. In the process, breaches of Indonesian and Cambodian laws have been committed and are the subject of legal and investigation processes.
A WTM spokesperson has reportedly said that all parties are working closely and amicably to ensure that the situation is resolved at the earliest. The spokesperson did not elaborate on how it would help prevent taking matters to the courts to decide, who is the owner of 300,000 oil barrels worth approximately $20 million.
KrisEnergy, the oil explorer, reportedly said on 4 June that it was unable to pay debts. It soon abandoned project Apsara. KrisEnergy owned 95% of the venture; the remaining belonged to the Cambodian government. The latter had been expecting about $500 million in royalties and taxes over the project’s lifetime.
The Energy Ministry had no specific comment to make when asked if it considered that the issue could be solved without taking the matter to courts. KrisEnergy and its associated liquidators, however, have not yet responded to requests for comments.