The United States confiscated a cargo of Iranian crude oil from a Russia-flagged tanker being held in Greek waters and chartered a Greek-owned tanker to transport the oil back to the US, reported Lloyd’s List.
The vessel, the Lana – formerly named Pegas – was detained earlier on April 15 by Greek authorities and kept at a port awaiting a court ruling and the site said that the tanker Ice Energy was transferring the oil off the Lana in Greek waters.
The operation, first reported by US lobby group United Against Iran on Twitter was verified using Lloyd’s list Intelligence Data, the site saying that the transfer vessel was owned by Greek billionaire shipping oligarch George Procopiou.
It was chartered by the US Department of Justice to take the oil to America but wouldn’t comment on the operation although the US practice of seizing sanctioned cargoes has brought debate and suits in the insurance industry.
While the details are yet to be made public, the US has previously argued that such seizures were legal when linked to a US-sanctioned Iranian terrorist group, giving them jurisdiction to act in international waters, said Lloyd’s.
The move to seize the cargo ended speculation over how the Greek detention would play out as the Russian ship was first held based on its ownership as the European Union imposed sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
That seizure notice was withdrawn as the new registered owner was not on any EU sanctions list and Greece’s all-powerful shipping industry ironically blocked Greece from barring the movement of Russian oil by ships.
There were no legal grounds to impound the ship following checks and the coast guard had been ordered by the anti-money laundering authority to release the vessel, Reuters reported, citing official Greek sources. No further details were provided and no date was given for its departure.
According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data, the vessel had been expected at the Marmara terminal in Turkey in January, and the vessel ended up in Greek waters unintentionally, setting off the international incident.