Sudan oil dispute keeps tanker from Japan port
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 | 00:00
A ship carrying disputed Sudanese crude is awaiting permission to dock in Japan, unable to unload its cargo for the past week because of uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the oil, shipping sources and traders said on Monday.
The Ratna Shradha, which is owned by India Steamship, is holding 600,000 barrels of crude oil that South Sudan says was seized by neighbouring Sudan last month and which sold it at deep discount to a North Asian trader, industry sources said.
Landlocked South Sudan needs to export its crude through Sudan but both nations have failed to agree on a transit price, prompting Khartoum to take some southern oil to make up for what it says are unpaid fees.
"(The) Ratna Shradha is still drifting out at sea, waiting to berth at Kiire. She is coming to Japan to discharge," said a shipping industry source involved in the matter.
The tanker, anchored off southwest Japan since February 14, was unable to dock at the Port of Kiire because it was not clear who the owner of the crude oil was, said an oil trader familiar with Sudanese crude sales.
The docking schedule for this week did not have the Ratna Shradha unloading, the shipping source added, indicating that the ship may only be able to dock next week at the earliest.
India Steamship, a unit of Chambal Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd., and the owner of the Kiire terminal, JX Nippon Oil & Energy, both declined to comment.
Trafigura, the world's third largest oil trader, bought one cargo of the Nile Blend grade crude loaded aboard the vessel, industry sources familiar with the transaction said, and is now in a legal dispute over ownership.
South Sudanese authorities have said the tanker was loaded with oil in Sudan provided by oil producer Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company in mid-January.
Sudan has confiscated more than 6 million barrels of South Sudan's oil since December due to the row over oil transit fees, a South Sudanese official said last week.
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