Indonesia to resume coal shipments to Philippines

Indonesia plans to recommence some shipments of coal to the Philippines after a  suspension lasting several months because of piracy concerns, Transportation Ministry official Antonius Tonny Budiono said on Sunday.

Earlier this year Indonesia imposed a moratorium on coal shipments to the Philippines after a number of hijackings by militant group Abu Sayyef, based in the Sulu Sea area of the southern Philippines.

Only ships with a capacity of more than 500 tonnes will be allowed to resume sailing.

“For safety and security reasons … all ships must sail in the recommended corridors and avoid conflict areas or waters (around) the southern Philippines and east Malaysia,” Budiono said, adding that the decision to resume some shipments had been taken because the moratorium had been deemed to be “damaging Indonesian interests”.

Indonesia supplies about 70% of the Philippines’ coal imports

Several Indonesian sailors were taken hostage earlier this year by Abu Sayyaf, a group known for piracy and kidnappings. Most have since been released,  other foreign nationals are still being held for ransom.

Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia have agreed to coordinate patrols in the Sulu Sea, but these have yet to begin.