Indonesia seizes oil tanker for violating palm oil export ban

The Indonesian Navy has seized a tanker that was transporting palm oil out of the country in violation of an export ban, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, banned its exports last week to curb soaring domestic prices and shortages.

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An Indonesian warship on Wednesday intercepted the Singapore-flagged MV Mathu Bhum on its way to Malaysia, Navy spokesman Agung Prasetiawan said in a press release.

“The vessel was carrying (…) 34 containers containing Refined, Bleached and Deodorized (RBD) Palm Olein. This is the type of material that is temporarily banned for export,” he added. .

Indonesia produces around 60% of the world’s palm oil, which is used in a range of products such as cosmetics and chocolate spreads. A third of its production is consumed on site.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, vegetable oils are among the staple foods whose prices have risen to record highs in recent weeks after Russia invaded agricultural powerhouse Russia.

Indonesian growers have recently been hesitant to sell domestically because exporting is currently more profitable due to high international prices.

But authorities in the archipelago have stepped in to try to control prices, fearing public anger as consumers in several towns were forced to queue for hours at distribution centers to buy cooking oil at subsidized rates.

Indonesia’s export ban has pushed prices of European palm, soybean, rapeseed and canola oils to historic highs.

It plans to resume exports when the local wholesale price of cooking oil drops to 14,000 rupees (97 cents), after climbing to 26,000 rupees in recent weeks.

The price had fallen to 17,200 rupees on Friday.

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