Indonesia arrests vessel and crew over illegal palm oil exports

Container ship Mathu Bhum (IMO 8813647) was arrested on May 5th, along with its 29 crew members, under suspicion of illegally attempting to export refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD) palm oil from Belawan Port.

The boxship was intercepted by Indonesian Navy off the port of Belawan, North Sumatra. It claimed that the vessel was carrying 34 containers of RBD to Port Klang, Malaysia, despite the current Indonesian ban on palm oil exports.

Mathu Bhum was inspected and returned to the pier at Belawan, according to an Indonesian Navy spokesman.

The Mathu Bhum is the sixth vessel that Indonesian authorities have intercepted in connection with palm oil export restrictions to date, according to the Jakarta Post.

Indonesia’s decision to shut down exports in order to guarantee domestic supply came as a shock to global markets, and with the Russian invasion of Ukraine shutting down the flow of sunflower seed oil out of Ukrainian ports, added to which is a drought in South America hitting soybean production and similar dry weather in Canada reducing the rapeseed oil harvest, a global shortage of vegetable oils seems inevitable.

Indonesia said that it planned to allow the resumption of refined palm oil exports when the domestic price of cooking oil falls back down to about $1 per litre. It had reached a high of $1.80 a litre prior to the export ban.

No AIS since May 1st.

1990-built, Singapore-flagged, 11,079 gt Mathu Bhum is owned by Regional Container Lines Pte care of manager RCL Shipmanagement Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is entered with Swedish Club (Asia Team) on behalf of Regional Container Lines Pte Ltd.