Iran has failed to sell a cargo of 700,000 barrels of its rebranded oil as Asian crude to Croatia, bringing back the full tanker to Malaysia again this week.
The Panama-flagged tanker, Arc 1, with Iranian oil now is in Malaysian Pengerang port, according to the latest satellite photos.
United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) for first time reported in May that Arc 1, registered in the name of a Marshall Islands shell company, Silver Coast, has been carrying Iranian oil to Croatia.
UANI had attached satellite photos to show that Arc 1 had loaded Iranian crude on April 2 through a ship-to-ship transfer from another tanker, the Vigor, off Malaysia.
The Vigor had itself been tracked through Lloyd’s List Intelligence data and photographed by satellites while loading oil from the Iranian island of Kharg on March 14.
Shio-to-ship transfers are Iran’s favorite method of trying to hide its oil shipments, with cargos rebranded as oil from other countries and sold to refineries in China and apparently even Europe.
Editor of shipping industry Richard Meade at Lloyd’s List twitted on July 28 that "Remember the Arc 1 tanker? The one that loaded Iranian crude then sat off Croatia for weeks while the government considered whether they could get away with calling it 'Malaysian blend'. Well, rejected from Europe she’s sat off for Malaysia again".
UANI's chief of staff Claire Jungman also told Iran International on July 29 that Arc 1 has about 702,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil. The tanker left Croatia in late June.
UANI is tracking illicit Iranian oil shipments in violation of United States’ sanctions and informing the international community of any information it finds on illegal cargos and deliveries.
The United States imposed partial sanctions on Iran’s oil exports in November 2018 after it withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement, the JCPOA. In May 2019, the US announced full sanctions on any third party buying, or assisting or any involvement with Iran’s crude exports.
The sanctions brought Iran’s exports down from more than 2 million barrels per day in 2017, to less than 300,000 in 2019. However, Tehran began shipping more oil by the end of 2020, after President Joe Biden won the US elections and signaled his intention to reverse Trump’s policy and revive the nuclear deal.
China has been the main buyer of Iran’s illicit oil cargos, possibly expecting little pressure by the United States, which is trying to convince Iran to accept a draft agreement reached over the nuclear issue.