Iran Releases Chevron-Chartered Tanker Held for 15 Months After Taking Oil

crude oil tanker
Advantage Sweet is underway after nearly 15 months of detention in Iran (Advantage Tankers file photo)

Published Jul 11, 2024 12:37 PM by The Maritime Executive


Tracking services and the AIS signal from the Marshall Island-flagged tanker Advantage Sweet show the vessel underway and bound for Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates nearly 15 months after the tanker was detained by Iranian forces. The latest AIS data shows that the tanker has cleared the Strait of Hormuz and is entering the Gulf of Oman, although official Iranian news outlets are yet to acknowledge the release.

Reports from both Associated Press and Bloomberg however are saying that the vessel appears to be traveling with only ballast after having been unloaded of its crude oil cargo taken aboard in Kuwait in April 2023 and valued in various reports at $50 million. AP says Chevron, which had the vessel under charter, had previously written off the cargo as a loss. Bloomberg reports the vessel’s draft decreased by 13 feet a likely sign of the offloading.

The Advantage Sweet is managed by a Turkish company, Genel Denizcilik Nakliyati for Advantage Tankers of Switzerland. Built in 2012, the vessel is 159,000 dwt, and according to the IMO database, the ultimate owner is a Chinese leasing company that is part of the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. None of the companies have made a statement about the release of the vessel.

Iran seized the tanker on April 27, 2023, first alleging that it had hit an Iranian boat in the area around the Strait and failed to stop. The seizure however was believed to be retaliation for the U.S. court action to seize an Iranian cargo aboard the tanker Suez Rajan. Iranian officials have repeatedly said they would not permit the U.S. to seize Iranian assets and that they would respond in kind.

A year after taking the Advantage Sweet, Iran reported that its courts had ordered the seizure of the cargo aboard the tanker. The reports said the cargo would be compensation for Iranian patients suffering from a rare genetic skin disorder, Epidermolysis Bullosa. The suit reportedly was 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. 

Associated Press is reporting an Iranian court followed up the earlier ruling by today awarding the patients $6.7 billion in compensation. They demanded that the U.S. government pay the compensation to some 300 plaintiffs according to AP.

The U.S. government reported it seized the cargo aboard the Suez Rajan as compensation for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The cargo was ultimately offloaded in Texas and sold with the proceeds going to the compensation fund for the families of 9/11 victims.

Iran also seized another tanker Niovi, however, that vessel was inbound and not loaded at the time. Its forces also ultimately took the St Nikolas (ex. Suez Rajan) when it reached the Gulf. These vessels remain held by the Iranians and this spring they also seized an MSC-controlled containership which was placed in the same area of detention.