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Uncovering Iran’s Secret Oil Shipping Scheme

Italy in June is a tremendous place to be. The exquisite beaches of the Amalfi Coast, the green hills of Tuscany, the eternal hustle and bustle of Rome, what more can one ask for. Interestingly, however, Italy became the venue of a quite peculiar case revolving around the presence of an oil-laden tanker outside of Milazzo, one of the biggest Italian ports. By examining the specific example of MT White Moon, one can see a general scheme of things in how Iran copes with quasi unilateral US sanctions and what prospects does it face in doing so. The picture is rather bleak for Iran as buyers, even those with a high appetite for risk, seem to be aware of the risks inherent in dealing with Iranian crude.

When Italian media started reporting last week on a stranded tanker near Milazzo, the energy world barely took notice – it focused on the US-China trade wars and devoured news about the upcoming OPEC/OPEC+ summit. The cargo, according to official documentation some 600 000 barrels of Iraqi crude, was carried aboard the Suezmax vessel White Moon and was expected to be discharged in Milazzo, home to the 235kbpd Milazzo Refinery which is co-owned by the Italian oil major ENI and the Kuwaiti national oil company KPC. The discharge, however, never happened. According to ENI’s official press release, the crude aboard White Moon was “not compliant with the chemical and physical specifications required (by ENI)”.

This seemingly inconspicuous release harbors…




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