Investigations are underway involving an oil heist at the biggest refinery of Royal Dutch Shell in Singapore. So far eleven men have been charged in court while six others were being investigated over the theft that took place over the weekend.
According to the city-state’s police, the age of the 17 men who have been detained ranges between 30 and 63. Police have also seized cash totaling millions of dollars as well as a small tanker after the heist which occurred at an industrial site in Pulau Bukom.
Illegal oil trading
In the last few decades the shipping and refining of oil have contributed immensely to the rising wealth in Singapore. The oil sector in the city-state however faces challenges as it has become an illegal oil trading hotspot with the stolen fuel finding markets in Southeast Asia. Per the police the investigation started last year in August after they were contacted by Shell and the arrests came after the Police Coast Guard, Police Intelligence Department and Criminal Investigation Department launched simultaneous raids spread across Singapore.
Among the nine Singaporeans who were arrested and charged, eight were employed by Shell’s Singapore subsidiary. There were also two Vietnamese nationals who were arrested and charged for being in possession of stolen property on the small tanker referred to as the Prime South. Shipping data showed that the small tanker had been operating as an oil shipper between Singapore, Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City in the last 30 days.
Main refining hub
Besides being the main refinery hub in Southeast Asia as well as the largest marine refueling stop in the world, Singapore is also one of the most important trading hubs of oil in the world. Most of the crude oil from the Middle East passes through Singapore before it is delivered to consumers in countries such as South Korea, Japan and China.
The development comes in the wake of the chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Beurden, indicating that most of the growth in oil and gas for the Anglo-Dutch giant in the next decade will come from shale production. Beyond that van Beurden indicated that the power segment would play a significant role.
“… the power segment is going to be a very dominant part of the total energy system. At the moment it’s only 18 per cent but it will be more than 50 by the time this century is over,” said van Beurden.