Sunday September 16, 2012
Probe into claims Iran using Labuan to export oil
KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian authorities are looking into claims that a mobile storage depot off Labuan island is being used by Iran to export its crude oil, thus evading international sanctions.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency commanding officer for Sabah region, First Admiral N. Kararunathi said he was aware of the news reports claiming that oil tankers laden with Iranian crude oil had been anchored off Labuan.
“We cannot verify this yet. We are comparing notes with other relevant agencies,” he said yesterday.
Reuters had reported that Iranian crude shipped to the area were unloaded at night and stored on hired tankers flying the Panamanian flag to await potential Asian buyers.
At least two large oil tankers have unloaded crude this way in recent weeks and several more Iranian vessels were on the way.
The report quoted port officials as saying that last month, the Lantana, a tanker operated by the National Iranian Tanker Co, transferred its cargo of around one million barrels of crude oil to the Titan Ruchira, a floating storage vessel, off Pulau Kuraman near Labuan.
It said that in early August, another Iranian tanker, Motion, discharged as many as two million barrels of fuel oil on to the Titan Tulshyan in the same area. The two ships were among 58 Iranian-owned vessels blacklisted by Washington in July for assisting in Iran’s oil trade.
Iran would like to shift more oil to what is effectively a mobile storage depot off the Labuan coast over the next few months, said an industry source familiar with Iran’s planning.
The report quoted people in the industry as saying that Labuan, sheltered from typhoons, was an ideal place to blend or rebrand oil and resell it under the radar of sanctions enforcers in Washington or Brussels.