Malaysian oil tanker 'likely' hijacked by pirates

No ransom demands have been made for tanker carrying 16 crew, petrol valued at almost $5.6 million

Malaysian oil tanker 'likely' hijacked by pirates

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Malaysian-flagged fuel tanker that went missing four days ago is likely to have been hijacked by pirates, according to the country’s maritime agency Monday.

Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar, deputy director-general of Malaysia's Maritime Enforcement Agency, told a press conference that no ransom demands have been made so far for the MT Orkim Harmony, which had been carrying petrol valued at 21 million Ringgit (almost $5.6 million).

The ship transporting the petrol for national oil firm Petronas had been carrying 22 crew including 16 Malaysians, five Indonesians and one Myanmar national.

“If we want to say they are hostages, they must have somebody asking for ransom,” Kahar said Monday, adding that no ransom had been demanded from the agency or government as of 3.30 p.m. (0830GMT).

Underlining that past cases of maritime theft that seen ships’ cargoes being transferred to other vessels, he said, “but this ship was carrying 5,879 metric tons of RON95 petrol, which makes it hard to transfer."

The MT Orkim Harmony had departed from the Malacca port, in the southern southern region of the Malay Peninsula, and was bound for Kuantan port om the east coast when communication was lost Thursday at 8.50pm (1350GMT).

Kahar said the maritime agency had been notified of its disappearance around 10 hours later the next day, immediately commencing search efforts for the ship.

The vessel’s last known location was 30 nautical miles off the east coast of southern Johor state.

On average, Southeast Asia sees the hijacking of a small tanker by pirates every two weeks, according to a report released by the International Chamber of Commerce in April.

Data from the Chamber’s International Maritime Bureau shows that 55 percent of the 54 piracy and armed robbery cases that occurred in the first quarter of this year took place in the region.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Haziran 2015, 15:13