A photo showing tankers in possible ship-to-ship oil transfers. FILE

A photo showing tankers in possible ship-to-ship oil transfers.

US Seized Iranian Oil Shipment As Tehran Prepares To Boost Exports

3/11/2022

Associated Press reported Thursday that cargoes of suspected Iranian oil seized a month ago from two tankers were intended to sidestep possible US sanctions involving false documents and repainting the decks.

The agency said that “US law enforcement” had directed “Greek-managed vessels” to discharge the oil, worth “over $38 million,” in Houston, Texas and the Bahamas.

Under US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions any third party buying Iranian oil could face punitive action. The US in 2020 sold the contents of four tankers of Iranian oil heading to Venezuela. While much of the proceeds from such seizures is absorbed by ‘administration’ and lawyers’ fees, they have also led to legal action for compensation by relatives of victims of the 2001, ‘9-11’ al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

Iran, which has kept up reduced oil exports since US ‘maximum pressure’ began in 2018, is moving stocks of over 100 million barrels onto ships, apparently preparing for sanctions easing should agreement be reached in Vienna talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear program. Rising oil prices have already boosted Iran’s revenue. Iran exported less than half the average 2.4 million barrels per day it pumped in 2021 but could be well placed to meet shortfalls caused by US sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

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