Singapore jails tanker captain in Shell oil heist case

Charge sheets seen by Reuters allege that Than received over 1,000 metric tons of stolen oil from the Pulau Bukom refinery on the vessel MT Gaea on two occasions in December 2017. (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 December 2019

Singapore jails tanker captain in Shell oil heist case

  • The theft unfolded in the biggest ship re-fueling hub and Southeast Asia’s petroleum refining hub
  • Charge sheets read that Than received over 1,000 metric tons of stolen oil

SINGAPORE: A Vietnamese oil tanker captain has been jailed for over five years in Singapore for his role in a scheme that saw around $150 million of oil stolen from Shell’s biggest refinery over several years, local media reported.
Doan Xuan Than, 47, on Thursday became the second person to be sentenced in a case that also involves several former employees of the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell who allegedly conspired to siphon thousands of tons of oil from the firm’s Singapore refinery, Singapore’s Straits Times said citing court hearings and documents.
The theft, which unfolded in the world’s biggest ship re-fueling hub and Southeast Asia’s petroleum refining hub, shone a spotlight on an illegal oil trade worth tens of billions of dollars worldwide.
Than’s sentencing comes almost two years after Singaporean police raids that led to over a dozen arrests for alleged offenses dating back to 2014 in which around 340,000 tons of gasoil were filched from Shell’s refinery which sits on an islet south of Singapore’s mainland.
Charge sheets seen by Reuters allege that Than received over 1,000 metric tons of stolen oil from the Pulau Bukom refinery on the vessel MT Gaea on two occasions in December 2017.
Another Vietnamese national was jailed for 2-1/2-years in July for related offenses, the Straits Times reported.
Besides the former Shell employees, there have been related charges filed against former employees of one of Singapore’s biggest marine fuel suppliers, Sentek Marine & Trading Pte Ltd; a Singaporean who worked for Intertek, a British-listed company specializing in quality and quantity assurance, including for fuel products; and other Vietnamese nationals who allegedly received stolen property aboard ships.
Shell has previously said it was “disappointed” by what it uncovered at Pulau Bukom, was working closely with authorities and had implemented “measures to prevent this from happening again.”
Singapore’s state courts did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment while Than could not be reached for comment.


Britons rush home from France to beat new quarantine rules

Updated 47 min 18 sec ago

Britons rush home from France to beat new quarantine rules

  • Britain’s government announced late on Thursday that it would impose a quarantine on Saturday
  • Many British tourists headed toward the French port of Calais hoping to catch a ferry or a shuttle train home in time

LONDON/CALAIS, France: Britons rushed home from summer holidays in France on Friday after their government said it would soon impose a 14-day quarantine on travelers from across the Channel due to rising coronavirus infections there.
Britain’s government announced late on Thursday that it would impose a quarantine from 0300 GMT on Saturday on arrivals from France, giving an estimated 160,000 UK holidaymakers there just over 24 hours to get home to avoid having to self-isolate once back.
The sudden rule change dealt a fresh blow to tourists, airlines and tour operators all hoping for holidays after the pandemic, which has left many travel groups cash-strapped and facing an uncertain future.
Many British tourists headed toward the French port of Calais hoping to catch a ferry or a shuttle train home in time.
“We’ve changed our plans when we heard the news last night. We decided to head back home a day early to miss the quarantine,” one British woman at a service station on the motorway to Calais said after her week in southern France.
In Calais, queues of cars were expected to build on Friday afternoon. Ferry companies were adding extra crossings to help more people get home before the deadline, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, head of the Port of Calais, told Reuters.
The new quarantine rules apply to France, the second-most popular holiday destination for Britons, the Netherlands and the Mediterranean island of Malta, transport minister Grant Shapps said.
Spain, the favorite holiday destination for Britons, came under British government quarantine rules on July 26.
France warned it would reciprocate, causing further headaches for airlines which might have to cancel yet more flights, meaning fresh financial pain and denying them the August recovery for which they’d hoped.
Airline and travel shares tumbled. British Airways-owner IAG was down 6 percent and easyJet, which said it would operate its full schedule for the coming days, fell 7 percent.

Tightening quarantine
When Europe first went into lockdown in March, Britain was criticized for not restricting arrivals from abroad. But since June, it has introduced strict quarantine rules for arrivals from countries with infection rates above a certain level.
The tightening quarantine for foreign travel, however, contrasts with the easing of rules at home, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered the gradual reopening of the economy to resume, weeks after pausing it.
Shapps denied that the policies were contradictory, saying that the aim was to keep the reproduction rate of infection below one.
“Being able to open up some of those things but having to close down travel corridors elsewhere is all part of the same thing,” he told BBC Radio.
Shapps said he sympathized with travelers but that they should not be entirely surprised, given the fluid situation around the pandemic.
“Where we see countries breach a certain level of cases ... then we have no real choice but to act,” he told Sky News.
He ruled out any special assistance for holidaymakers, saying they knew the risks before traveling, with a possible quarantine to France having been rumored for weeks.
Airlines UK, an industry body representing BA, easyJet and Ryanair, called on Britain to implement more targeted quarantines on the regions with the highest infection rates and to bring in a testing regime.
An EU study showed that imported cases of COVID typically only account for a small share of infections when a pandemic is at its peak, but are more significant once a country has the disease under control.