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Indonesia seizes sixth container ship over prohibited palm olein exports

Indonesia seizes sixth container ship over prohibited palm olein exports
Photo Credit: glennhurowitz. CC BY-ND 2.0

The Singapore-flagged MV Mathu Bhum, carrying 34 containers of prohibited palm olein, was intercepted by the Indonesian Navy on its route to Malaysia near the port of Belawan, North Sumatra. 

The Mathu Bhum was inspected and discovered to be transporting 34 containers of refined, bleached, and deodorised prohibited palm olein (RBD). According to naval spokesperson Agung Prasetiawan, it was then returned to the port of Belawan. “The Indonesian Navy will continue its operations at sea to enforce the palm oil export prohibition,” he added. 

Producers in Indonesia have been hesitant to comply as current international pricing means more profitability. 

The five other tankers were the Malaysian-flagged TB Ever Sunrise, the MV World Progress (Liberia), the MT W. Blossom (Tuvalu), the Chinese-flagged MV Annabelle, and the Indonesian-flagged MV Toto XVI, all of which were seized by the Navy’s Koarmada I, which patrols western Indonesian waters. 

In April, Indonesia imposed an export ban on cooking oil raw materials in order to address rising domestic costs and shortages as vegetable oils reached record highs, owing in part to the Russian invasion, which halted the flow of sunflower seed oil out of Ukrainian ports, taking roughly 3% of the world’s edible oil supply offline. 

Crude palm oil (CPO), refined palm oil, and refined, bleached, and deodorised (RBD) palm olein are all banned from export. 

Indonesia produces more than half of the world’s palm oil supply, with the domestic market consuming one-third of it. The domestic price of Indonesian palm oil increased to £1.46 per litre in the previous month due to increased demand. When the domestic price of bulk cooking oil falls to 78p per litre, the government intends to lift the export ban. 

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