Photo: MARINHA PORTUGUESA

Portuguese Navy steps up surveillance against high sea crude transfers

A tanker that was about 85 nautical miles off Portimão claimed a “malfunction in the main machinery”, which raised suspicion

The Portuguese navy has stepped up surveillance of attempts to transfer crude oil between ships in the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) since the beginning of the war in Ukraine and has detected two suspicious situations that raised concern.

Photo: MARINHA PORTUGUESA

Contacted by Lusa about a suspected crude oil transfer more than 155 kilometres from Portimão (Faro) by a Syrian-flagged tanker, navy spokesman José Sousa Luís said that “since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, the collection and processing of information has been increased, and more resources have been made available when necessary.

Since February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukrainian territory, the navy has increased surveillance of activity known as “bunkering” – banned under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea because of the possibility of causing an environmental disaster – and “until 15 days ago had not had any suspicious movement”.

However, a suspicion in Madeira’s EEZ and another off Portimão led to the navy’s intervention.

Photo: MARINHA PORTUGUESA

According to a statement released on Sunday, a tanker that was about 85 nautical miles off Portimão claimed a “malfunction in the main machinery”, that it needed “a few hours” to repair them and that it was “awaiting instructions from the company about the port of destination”.

The navy suspected that the tanker was beginning “preparations for the practice of bunkering and transfer of crude oil”, but a few hours later “began navigation” out of the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone.

The navy spokesman added that the collection and processing of information is done using “civilian and military remote control systems” and that as part of this surveillance, which was already “permanent” before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, it has already been necessary to resort to “a submarine in the EEZ of the Azores”. LUSA

Source: Lusa