U.S. Sanctions LPG Carrier and Chinese Companies Targeting Iranian Oil

US sanctions against Iran
US targeted Chinese interests including an LPG carrier for involvement with Iranian oil and petrochemicals (file photo)

Published Aug 1, 2022 3:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

The United States continues its efforts to target shipping companies and ships involved in the Iranian petrochemical and oil trade today targeting companies in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore as well as brokers involved in the trade. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reported it was taking actions against companies used by Iran to facilitate the sale of tens of millions of dollars worth of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products from Iran to East Asia. The move comes despite a recent setback in Greece in an attempt to enforce the sanctions.

Announcing the latest round of companies being listed by the State Department, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson linked the actions to the failure to make progress on the Iran nuclear talks. “The United States continues to pursue the path of diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Until such time as Iran is ready to return to full implementation of its commitments, we will continue to enforce sanctions on the illicit sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals.”

The actions specifically targeted Iran’s Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co., one of the nation’s largest petrochemical brokers. According to the State Department, the company which is a subsidiary of Iran’s petrochemical conglomerate Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Co. is part of an operation that accounts for half of all of Iran’s petrochemical exports.

One vessel, the Glory Harvest, was cited in today’s actions, a 25-year-old LPG carrier built in South Korea. The vessel is currently registered in Panama and linked to Golden Warrior Shipping Co., with offices in Shandong, China, and Hong Kong. The U.S. did not cite specific operations of the vessel but according to its AIS data, it has been in China since June. The 7,200 dwt vessel according to brokers had previously been in Pakistan discharging cargo and is currently listed for sale with an asking price of $4.95 million. The vessel is now listed as blocked property by the U.S.

The department is also designating Golden Warrior Shipping, Co. They contend that the company has engaged in transactions related to Iranian petroleum and petroleum products, including providing logistical support to the Iranian petroleum trade. In addition, Singapore-based Pioneer Ship Management was listed for having served as the commercial manager for the vessel while transporting Iranian petroleum products.

The sanctions also targeted a series of companies that the State Department tied to various transactions. In addition to UAE-based Blue Cactus Heavy Equipment and Machinery Spare Parts Trading that the U.S. contends Iran used to facilitate the sale of millions of dollars worth of Iranian-origin petroleum products, they targeted companies headquartered in China and Asia. Hong Kong and Malaysia-based PZNFR Trading Limited, reportedly collected millions of dollars worth of proceeds in sales while Farwell Canyon HK Limited, based in Jordan and China acted as a broker and facilitator. 

Iran, however, in the past has scoffed at the sanctions saying they are doing little to stop the oil trade. Last month, the Greek Supreme Court failed to overturn a lower court ruling that released a shipment of crude oil from Iran. The U.S. has won initial approval from the Greek Courts to seize the cargo after having sanctioned the tanker in February 2022 for its involvement in the Iranian oil trade. The tanker, the Lana, remains in the anchorage at Piraeus awaiting the return of the cargo which was partially transshipped when the U.S. won the initial approval to claim the cargo. Iran continues to hold two Greek-owned crude oil tankers that it seized in retaliation for the confiscation of the crude oil cargo.