Stena Oil: Seafarers Imprisoned after Show Trial in São Tomé

marinelink.com
Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Ships and Cargo Wrongfully Confiscated, says Stena.

 

Stena Oil, the Swedish Oil Company, has alleged that the West African republic of São Tomé e Príncipe has wrongfully confiscated two ships chartered by the Swedish oil company Stena Oil, including the cargo. According to Stena, the captains have been severely sentenced to three years of imprisonment and charged with "smuggling" in a show trial. A fine of 5 million EUR has been imposed, and the vessels and cargo have been confiscated by the state of São Tomé. It is Stena Oil's clear and firm position that the allegations are entirely unfounded. Neither the ship owners nor Stena Oil have been given the opportunity by any court to clear the false allegations against them. The São Tomé court has refused to consider evidence that would clearly prove the innocence of all the accused parties, including the captains who have now been imprisoned. After nearly four months, the situation remains unresolved and has thus far cost Stena Oil and the owners of the ships more than 3 million USD.

 

  • STENA’s Prepared Statement Continued, as follows:

 

For nearly four months, the ships and their cargo have been wrongfully detained by the São Tomé authorities. The captains have been imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. They are the victims of an unscrupulous government trying to enrich themselves by confiscating assets from foreign businesses.
 

The situation started on March 15 th 2013 when two ships chartered by Stena Oil were to transfer some equipment and cargo off the coast of São Tomé between themselves. Due to the conditions at sea, the captains made the decision to seek shelter closer to shore, within São Tomé territorial waters. It was simply a matter of safety for the vessels, crew and environment. The coast guard of São Tomé appeared before any transfer had been commenced and records of the radio traffic show that they did not disapprove of the vessels' presence there. Yet both vessels were later boarded and made to move to port, where the captains where forcefully taken ashore for questioning. Vessel documents and crew passports were seized.
 

Despite substantial effort on the part of Stena Oil, the São Tomé authorities refused to explain why they had detained the ships, or on what charges. Five days later, the captains were accused of illegal entry into territorial waters and smuggling. These accusations are unfounded and absurd, as the intended transfer was from one ship chartered by Stena Oil to another. After a perfunctory trial, in which the accused captains were not allowed to present evidence of their innocence, the judgment was passed two weeks later. The captains were to be imprisoned, the ships and cargo confiscated by the State of São Tomé and finally, a fine of 5 million EUR was imposed, to be paid jointly by the two captains, the vessel owners and Stena Oil. The sentence is so abusive and grossly disproportionate that we can only surmise that there are strong ulterior political motives which have prejudiced the local justice system.
 

We have now learned that the São Tomé authorities intend to repatriate the crews of the ships and leave the vessels where they currently reside off shore São Tomé. We strenuously disapprove of this measure, as the consequences of a fully loaded petroleum tanker caught close to shore in bad weather with less than a minimum safety crew may very well prove to become a major ecological disaster. We have of course strongly protested the situation, but the São Tomé authorities have ignored our recommendations.
 

It is imperative that these actions by the government of São Tomé must cease now. Stena Oil has extended every due courtesy to the São Tomé authorities and patiently engaged in discussions with their representatives in order to resolve the situation. We have requested that São Tomé apply relevant national and international maritime law in handling the situation, and we have worked tirelessly for an amicable and reasonable solution. However, to date our efforts have proven fruitless. The measures taken by the São Tomé authorities place them in clear violation of their obligations under international laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Unless the crew (including the two captains), vessels and cargo are immediately released, we will call São Tomé before the International Tribunal to answer for their deeds.
 

Neither Stena Oil, the vessels nor their owners and crew have been involved in any of the illegal actions alleged by São Tomé, including smuggling. In a region where international shipping is suffering daily from the threat of piracy, São Tomé has now introduced a new threat: de facto piracy by a sovereign state in the form of illegal confiscation of ships and cargo. Therefore, we are sharing this information with the international community as a warning for those who are doing business in or near the republic of São Tomé e Príncipe.

Maritime Reporter June 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Bulk Carrier Trends

Shipping Confidence at 7-year Low -Survey

Overall confidence levels in the shipping industry fell during the three months to May 2015 to a level equal to the lowest rating recorded in the past seven years,

Hyundai Sees Mega Ships Leading Global Demand

As the demand for mega vessels has increased, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. expects mega- sized container ships to lead global orders until early next year as shipping

Crisis Not Affected Greek Shipping: Morgan Stanley

Most the major Greek-controlled and listed carriers are registered in Greece, and they all have their liquidity placed in banks abroad.   Morgan Stanley analyst

Maritime Security

Pirates and Hold-ups: Crime Strikes Venezuela's Oil Industry

When night falls over western Venezuela, armed gangs known as "pirates" sometimes ride boats into muggy Lake Maracaibo to steal equipment from oil wells.   In the country's Paraguana peninsula,

Activists Planning Protest Against Shell's Arctic Business

U.S. environmental activists said they planned to protest on Tuesday against the launch of the second of two oil rigs central to Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Samsung Bags Order for Decks on Johan Sverdrup

Statoil, on behalf of the Johan Sverdrup license, has awarded Samsung the contract for decks for both the process and riser platforms.  The total contract value is NOK 7 billion.

News

Dittmann Named Chairman of SEA Europe

Kjeld Dittmann, the Managing Director of Lyngsø Marine A/S, is the new Chairman of the European Ships and Maritime Equipment Association (SEA Europe).    He succeeds Govert Hamers,

Sanamar Launches 3 Tugs from New Yard

Sanmar’s new custom-built, general purpose shipyard at Altinova, Turkey, has launched three 60-metric-ton bollard pull tugs on the same day, less than five months since work first started at the yard.

US Issues Potential Setback to Shell's Arctic Drilling

The Obama administration issued a potential setback to Royal Dutch Shell's  Arctic oil exploration plans on Tuesday, telling the company that established wildlife

Maritime Safety

Pirates and Hold-ups: Crime Strikes Venezuela's Oil Industry

When night falls over western Venezuela, armed gangs known as "pirates" sometimes ride boats into muggy Lake Maracaibo to steal equipment from oil wells.   In the country's Paraguana peninsula,

Coast Guard Monitoring Rocket Debris off US

The U.S. Coast Guard informs it is working with SpaceX and partner agencies to monitor the debris field of the exploded Falcon 9 rocket in the Atlantic Ocean more

Shell Rig Departs for Arctic Despite Protest

U.S. Coast Guard and police boats cleared a way through protesters in kayaks at a Seattle-area port on Tuesday so a drilling ship could head for the Arctic on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell.

Government Update

US Issues Potential Setback to Shell's Arctic Drilling

The Obama administration issued a potential setback to Royal Dutch Shell's  Arctic oil exploration plans on Tuesday, telling the company that established wildlife

Ex-BP Engineer Deserves New Gulf Spill Trial -US Appeals Court

A former BP Plc engineer deserves a new trial on an obstruction of justice charge related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

Pirates and Hold-ups: Crime Strikes Venezuela's Oil Industry

When night falls over western Venezuela, armed gangs known as "pirates" sometimes ride boats into muggy Lake Maracaibo to steal equipment from oil wells.   In the country's Paraguana peninsula,

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Port Authority Ship Repair Ship Simulators Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1524 sec (7 req/sec)