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Iran Seizes Iraqi Vessel In The Gulf

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Sunday it had seized an Iraqi boat carrying 700,000 liters of fuel the Iranian army said was being smuggled, IRNA reports.

Another report by the Iranian state news agency said the tanker was diverted to the port of Bushehr and the fuel was turned in to the National Oil Distribution Company.

The Iraqi oil ministry told the Iraqi New Agency as quoted by Reuters it “does not export diesel to the international market.”

While the amount of fuel seized is minor, at about 4,400 barrels, any news of a tanker seizure in the Persian Gulf steals headlines these days and is bound to push oil prices higher as tensions between Tehran and the UK and the U.S. continue to simmer.

These tensions first flared up after a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf, which the U.S. quickly blamed on Iran, claiming it had proof of Tehran’s involvement in the attacks. Then, the authorities of Gibraltar seized an Iranian tanker allegedly carrying crude for Syria in violation of EU sanctions against the latter. This added the UK to Iran’s immediate adversaries and it wasted no time to threaten retaliation.

The first attempt of the IRGC to seize a British-flagged vessel failed but the second was successful. The Iranian military seized the Stena Impero in mid-July and since then the two countries have been locked in none too friendly discussions about next steps. Related: Consumers Aren’t Crazy About Electric Cars

Interestingly enough, also last month Iranian media quoted the IRGC as claiming it had seized another tanker allegedly smuggling fuel in the Gulf. According to a statement from IRGC Navy’s carried by Iranian Fars news agency, “the ship was seized in a surprise action last Sunday during control operations and monitoring the vessels crossing the Persian Gulf with judiciary coordination and decree South of Lark Island after the IRGC was assured that it was carrying smuggled fuel which amounted to 1mln liters.”

At the same time, the IRGC “denied claims that it has seized any other foreign ship as claimed by the foreign media in the last several days, reiterating that the ship with smuggled fuel has been the only one seized by the IRGC Navy.”

Twitterers commenting on the latest news about a vessel seizure were not too impressed by the report with one commentator, British International Energy Law lecturer Niam Tabari, noting that while the vessel was certainly insignificant in terms of load, the news would have an immediate negative effect on insurance premiums, already inflated by the news coming out of the Gulf over the past few months.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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