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Iran Confiscates Oil from Chevron-Chartered Tanker Year After Seizing Ship

crude oil tanker seized by Iran
Iranian forces swarming around another tanker, the Niovi, seized days after the Advantage Sweet (U.S. Navy pohot)

Published Mar 6, 2024 2:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

An Iranian court has issued an order confiscating a crude oil cargo from the Advantage Sweet tanker a year after the country’s navy forcibly stopped the ship. It is the latest example of “tit for tat” retaliation by the Iranians against the U.S. and Western sanctions imposed in 2018 during the Trump administration.

Media reports from Iran are alternately referring to the cargo or the tanker as American, although the ultimate owners of the vessel registered in the Marshall Islands is a Chinese leasing company that is part of the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. Built in 2012, the vessel is 159,000 dwt and is managed by a Turkish company, Genel Denizcilik Nakliyati for Advantage Tankers of Switzerland. At the time of the seizure in April 2023, it was operating under charter to Chevron.

The vessel loaded a partial cargo of refined product in Kuwait departing on April 25, 2023, bound for Houston. Two days later, Iranian forces boarded the tanker outbound in the Gulf of Oman and directed it into Iranian waters where reports said it was “confiscated” under a court order. Iran justified its actions by citing a “collision of an unknown ship with an Iranian vessel in the waters of the Persian Gulf, which resulted in the loss of two people and the injury of several other crew members.” They alleged at the time that the Advantage Sweet stuck the vessel and kept on sailing.

The Iranian media now reports the court ruled after a lawsuit was filed by Iranian patients suffering from a rare genetic skin disorder, Epidermolysis Bullosa. The suit reportedly is based on the refusal of a Swedish manufacturer of specialized bandages and dressing to sell the supplies to Iran due to the U.S. and Western sanctions. There was no mention of the previous accusations of the collision with the Iranian vessel.

Iran says the cargo was then confiscated under the court order. They are valuing the cargo at approximately $50 million.

Timing of the seizure of the Advantage Sweet came shortly after reports emerged that the U.S. had moved to seize an Iranian oil cargo of approximately one million barrels loaded aboard a Greek tanker the Suez Rajan which at the time was anchored off Singapore. The U.S. action was taken on behalf of the families of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington D.C. The cargo was ultimately offloaded in Texas and sold with the proceeds going to the compensation fund.

The seizure of the Advantage Sweet was one of several reported by Iran which also included the January 2024 seizure of the St Nikolas (ex. Suez Rajan) which had been directly involved in the 2023 incident. Iran had vowed retaliation for the taking of its oil cargo.

Agence France Press is saying that Iran is currently holding a total of 90 crewmembers and has seized five tankers. Previously, Iran held Greek tankers when it was involved in a dispute with Greece which impounded a tanker that Iran claimed ownership of after it previously was identified as a Russian tanker. The U.S. lost a court battle in Greece to also seize the cargo from that vessel.