Colonel Tran Van Nam, head of the Legal Department at the Maritime Police High Command, said that the coastguard struggled to inspect petroleum smuggling activities in the sea areas between Viet Nam and other countries.
According to the colonel, foreign vessels often illegally transport and sell oil to Vietnamese boats disguised as fishing boats at the border areas. After several investigations, the boats have become more cautious and better prepared. After discovering, they are under observation, they quickly move out of Vietnamese waters areas.
On a more serious note, Nam said some smuggling boats were even equipped with weapons.
Boat owners often hire crews from different countries, including Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, making it difficult for the coastguard to identify the origin of the vessel during inspections.
From the end of April until the end of May, the coastguard seized more than 3.5 million litres of smuggled oil, Nam said.
“Smuggled oil brings huge profits. The oil price offshore is only two-thirds of that sold on shore,” he added.
The sale of fuel with unknown origins is still taking place at seaport areas in Quang Ninh Province, Hai Phong City, Da Nang City and Vung Tau City.
In April, 26 people from Cambodia and Thailand aboard three boats were arrested for transporting diesel off Viet Nam’s southern coast. In this case, coastguard officials in southern Viet Nam seized more than 1.2 million litres of diesel from the three foreign boats.
None of the crew could produce legal documents for the fuel.
Last December, Viet Nam’s coastguard intercepted a Thai ship with 1.3 million litres of undocumented gasoline.
Between March and July last year, at least four others were caught with nearly one million litres of illegal diesel.