Malaysian fuel Tanker's always get hijacked nowadays ! MILLIONS OF RM LOST

Asia & Pacific

Pirates Are Running Wild and Hijacking Oil Tankers in Southeast Asia

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					By<a href="https://news.vice.com/contributor/samuel-oakford" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> Samuel Oakford</a>
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			June 16, 2015 | 5:30 pm
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				<p>Pirates have reportedly captured a Malaysian oil tanker near 

Singapore, the latest in a string of hijackings tied to fuel theft that
have plagued Southeast Asia over the past year.

Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency said the Orkim Harmony,
a vessel carrying some 2 million gallons of gasoline, was travelling
near Singapore late last Thursday when authorities lost contact with the
ship. There’s a “high probability” that pirates commandeered the
tanker, Ahmad Puzi Abdul Kahar, the agency’s deputy director, said
Monday.

The hijacking comes a week after another Malaysian ship
was similarly captured off Singapore, according to the Regional
Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against
Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), which helps to coordinate anti-piracy efforts in
Asia. That vessel was released but only after the pirates stole the
diesel fuel it was carrying.

In an incident alert, ReCAAP said Malaysian and Indonesian authorities had dispatched patrol boats to search for the Orkim Harmony, which was carrying a crew from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

Unlike
hijacking syndicates that have plied the waters off Somalia in recent
years, the criminal gangs that target ships in Southeast Asia are
primarily seeking to quickly offload their fuel cargo to sell later,
according to Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime
Bureau (IMB), which tracks pirate attacks.

Related: EU Court Rules Somali Pirates Have the Same Rights as Everybody Else

Mukundan
told VICE News the pirates, who hail from across the region, had shown
little interest in holding crews hostage for ransom, instead seeking out
smaller ships that transport refined oil products.

“When they are
loaded they are very low in the water and the pilots approach the
vessels in very fast skiffs,” said Mukundan. "They drop alongside and
virtually step from the skiff onto the ship. Once they are onboard they
take control of the ship and rendezvous with another small tanker."

If
they are unable to capture a ship laden with fuel, the gangs may simply
grab whatever they can from a ship’s stores, including “paints, ropes
or coils,” according to ReCAAP.

The crimes are lucrative, with a
haul from a tanker typically worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and
more than $1 million in some cases. The ease with which pirates have
operated in recent months hitting ships roughly once every two weeks
since last April has disrupted shipping in the area.

In April,
IMB counted 54 piracy and armed robbery incidents across the globe
during the first quarter of 2015. More than half of those attacks were
concentrated in Southeast Asia. Of the 245 incidents of armed robbery on
the high seas and piracy that occurred globally last year, 141 happened
in Southeast Asia.

In a sign of changing times, the organization
reported no incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia during the
first quarter of this year. Most of the remaining incidents during that
period took place off the coast of West Africa, where gangs similarly
poach from ships that are often involved in Nigeria’s oil industry.

Piracy
and robbery of vessels in Southeast Asia has accelerated in recent
years, despite an overall fall worldwide since 2011 when 237 incidents,
including 28 hijackings, were blamed on Somali pirates.

International
anti-piracy efforts have coincided with a marked drop in attacks in the
Indian Ocean, on which Somalia lies. Part of that effort has seen a
rise in so-called “floating armories” in the region. The tracking group
Small Arms Survey reported around 30 heavily armed ships operated by
private security companies often with little or no regulation in the
Indian Ocean during 2014.

Related: Fuel-Siphoning Attack on Thai Tanker Highlights Spike in Piracy Around Asia

Much
of the oil destined for China and Japan passes through the Straits of
Malacca and Singapore, making ships there a ripe target for even the
most basic of enterprising criminals. During May alone, ReCAAP reported
11 incidents in both straits.

On May 2, eight armed assailants boarded the tanker Ocean Energy
off the coast of Port Dickson, Malaysia, in the Strait of Malacca. The
gunmen forced the ship to anchor, then siphoned some 2,023 metric tons
of gas onto a barge that had pulled up alongside. The entire theft took
less than 20 hours. On May 15, some 30 attackers boarded another ship,
the Oriental Glory, in the South China Sea, making off with
roughly 2,500 metric tons of ship fuel oil in a repeat of a similar
incident the year before.

Mukundan said authorities had raised
suspicions in some cases that crew members may be in on the heists. But
he added that just a few years ago, the IMB counted only two or three
such attacks annually, and said they were crimes of opportunity
that reflected a lack of law enforcement in the area.

Local
authorities, however, have been acutely aware of another cargo passing
through the Straits of Malacca this year: people. For weeks in May,
thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and migrants from Bangladesh
floated in the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca, rejected by one
country after another in response to a crackdown on human trafficking.

Follow Samuel Oakford on Twitter: @samueloakford


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