Iranian fuel oil exports trade skirts sanctions

440 views

SINGAPORE/BAGHDAD/TRIPOLI — At least two tankers have ferried Iranian fuel oil to Asia in recent months despite US sanctions against such shipments, according to a Reuters analysis of ship-tracking data and port information, as well as interviews with brokers and traders.

The shipments were loaded onto tankers with documents showing the fuel oil was Iraqi. But three Iraqi oil industry sources said the papers were forged.

The transfers show at least some Iranian fuel oil is being traded despite the reimposition of sanctions in November 2018. They also show how some traders have revived tactics that were used to skirt sanctions against Iran between 2012 and 2016.

While the United States has granted eight countries temporary waivers allowing limited purchases of Iranian crude oil, these exemptions do not cover products refined from crude, including fuel oil, mainly used to power the engines of large ships.

Documents forwarded to Reuters by ship owners say a 300,000 tonne-supertanker, the Grace 1, took on fuel oil at Basra, Iraq, between Dec. 10 and 12, 2018. But Basra port loading schedules reviewed by Reuters do not list the Grace 1 as being in port during those dates.

Shipping documents showed about 284,000 tonnes of fuel oil were transferred in the cargoes tracked by Reuters, worth about $120 million at current prices.

The Grace 1, a Panamanian-flagged tanker, is managed by Singapore-based shipping services firm IShips Management Pte Ltd, according to data. IShips did not respond to several requests for comment via email or phone.

The Grace 1 transferred its cargo to two smaller tankers between Jan. 16 and 22, data showed. One of those vessels, the 130,000 tonne-capacity Kriti Island, offloaded fuel oil into a storage terminal in Singapore around Feb. 5 to 7. Reuters was unable to determine who purchased the fuel oil for storage in Singapore.

The Kriti Island is managed by Greece’s Avin International SA.

The tanker was chartered by Singapore-based Blutide Pte Ltd for its voyage to Singapore, Avin International’s Chief Executive Officer George Mylonas told Reuters. Mylonas confirmed the Kriti Island took on fuel oil from the Grace 1.

The document provided by Mylonas says Iraq’s state oil marketer SOMO certified the Grace 1 in December loaded a total of 284,261 tonnes of Iraqi fuel oil.

Reuters shared the document with a SOMO official in Iraq who said it was “faked” and “completely wrong”.

Data showed the second tanker into which the Grace 1 transferred cargo was the Marshal Z, also a 130,000-tonne vessel.

Around Feb. 25, the Marshal Z transferred its cargo to another vessel called the Libya, owned and managed by Tripoli-based General National Maritime Transport Company (GNMTC).

The Libya’s owner GNMTC “was not aware, at any stage that the cargo is linked in any way to Iran,” the company’s spokesman said via email. — Reuters


440 views