Ministry of Mines and Energy today claimed that the stolen US$21 million crude oil on MT Strovolos legally belongs to Cambodia, denying the news and declarations of owners and managers of the vessel.

In a release issued on Sept. 30, the ministry said that the owners, managers and crew of MT Strovolos had been notified of crude oil ownership and violation of Cambodian laws in recent months.

They have not taken any action to return the crude oil to Cambodia and instead MT Strovolos called at various ports in Thailand and Indonesia, read the statement, adding that she switched off her AIS (automatic identification system) along her passage for considerable periods at various stages, including when leaving Cambodian waters without permission or authority with the crude oil belonging to Cambodia, leaving Thai waters, and entering Indonesian waters.

According to the ministry, when the MT Strovolos left Cambodian waters illegally, she was on charter to a KrisEnergy company that had a contract to develop Cambodian oil reserves. It appears that there were disputes under the charter between the owners and managers of the vessel and KrisEnergy. Whatever the position was and is, this has nothing to do with the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The crude oil cannot be the subject of any claim by the owners and managers of MT Strovolos, as the crude oil does not belong to the charterer (KrisEnergy), the ministry underlined.

“As has been emphasised, the crude oil is the property of the Kingdom of Cambodia. In any event, no claim under the charter agreement justifies or permits the unlawful departure of MT Strovolos from Cambodian waters and/or the misappropriation of the crude oil,” the ministry said in the statement.

Additionally, the ministry said that arrangement of the prompt restoration of the crude oil to its rightful owner, the Kingdom of Cambodia, must be made, and the vessel owners’ attempts to extract money from the Kingdom of Cambodia for matters that relate to disputes they may have with KrisEnergy must be desisted.

The stolen crude oil case occurred after KrisEnergy announced bankruptcy in July, after the first oil drop of crude oil was pumped out in late of December last year.



Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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