Russian-Iranian Tanker at Center of Dispute Towed to Piraeus Anchorage
Greek authorities are confirming the release of a Russian Aframax oil tanker, later claimed by Iran, that has been at the center of a nearly three-month legal battle with the United States. The tanker which arrived in Greece as the Russian-flagged Pegas, but later changed its identity to the Lana and reports a transfer of registry to Iran, has settled financial debts with a Greek tugboat company that had assisted the vessel.
Over the weekend, the Lana (115,000 dwt) left the anchorage at the Greek island of Evia where she had been since early April. She is now anchored at Piraeus, Greece where the Iranians are seeking the return of part of the vessel’s cargo that was transshipped to a tanker chartered by the United States. Iranian reports indicated in early June that they won the release of the vessel and the return of its crude oil cargo from a Greek court that reversed a previous order in April that awarded the cargo to the U.S. under the sanctions against the Iranian oil industry.
The tanker’s release however was reportedly being held up by a separate legal claim field by the tug company that towed the tanker into the anchorage in April after it experienced engine troubles. The Greeks initially detailed the Pegas saying the vessel was in violation of EU sanctions on Russian oil interests but days later said that after checking the ownership of the vessel it appeared not to be subject to the sanctions against Russia. The U.S. however, in mid-April moved to seize the oil in a Greek court.
The Lana also failed a port state inspection with multiple deficiencies related to the engine problems. While the vessel remained under detention, the U.S. had begun transshipping the oil to the first of two chartered tankers. It remains to be seen if the U.S. will reload the crude oil aboard the Lana. Greek officials reportedly told Reuters that the tanker was towed to Piraeus meaning that even if it recovers the oil, it might not have the propulsion power to sail away from Greece.
Progress with the Lana was also being taken as a hopeful sign that the detention of two Greek-flagged tankers by Iran might also be resolved. Iran seized the Delta Poseidon of Delta Tankers and the Prudent Warrior operated by Polembros Shipping in late May in retaliation for the Lana’s detention. Lloyd’s List is reporting activity near one of the two tankers which both remain held in Iranian ports. Separately, however, Polembros Shipping told Bloomberg today that it had confirmed that the crew of both tankers remain detained aboard their vessels.
On June 7, 2022, the Greek Consul in Tehran flew to Bandar Abbas according to Polembros Shipping and visited the ship. She found the crew in good physical and mental health. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard which seized the vessel said that the crews would not be kept aboard the two tankers.