High profit, low wages fuel illegal sales of marine gas oil

The theft and illegal sale of marine gas oil typically involves tugboats that run operations such as moving barges of sand or crushed rocks. Industry insiders say it happens regularly, and is very difficult to prevent or detect.
Left: Out at sea unsupervised, a tugboat crew can overwrite a vessel's operation duration in the logbook to increase the oil consumption per day, making up for the shortfall in fuel after the illegal sale. Below: Insiders say the high profitability o
Out at sea unsupervised, a tugboat crew can overwrite a vessel’s operation duration in the logbook to increase the oil consumption per day, making up for the shortfall in fuel after the illegal sale.ST PHOTOS: FABIAN KOH
Left: Out at sea unsupervised, a tugboat crew can overwrite a vessel's operation duration in the logbook to increase the oil consumption per day, making up for the shortfall in fuel after the illegal sale. Below: Insiders say the high profitability o
Insiders say the high profitability of the illegal sale makes it tempting to some boat crew members, who are mostly foreigners on work permits earning low wages. Their monthly income is about $600, after deducting their levy and living expenses.ST PHOTOS: FABIAN KOH

Some tugboat crew sell fuel to foreign-registered vessels, then doctor logbooks; firms say crime not easy to detect

Under the cover of darkness, two tugboats sail up side by side.

One is a foreign tugboat that has sailed into the waters of Singapore off its east coast, while another is chartered by a local company to pull barges in operations off the mainland.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2019, with the headline 'High profit, low wages fuel illegal sales of marine gas oil'. Print Edition | Subscribe