Two days after Iran said that the detained UK-flagged oil tanker was “free to leave Iran,” officials in the Islamic Republic said on Wednesday that the detention order had been lifted, but the tanker is still being detained because of the ongoing investigation.
The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which Iran seized in the middle of July in the Strait of Hormuz, is now “free to leave Iran,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiyee said on Monday, but that may not be so, sources say.
On Wednesday, Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, said on Twitter that “The lifting of the detention order against Steno Impero was finalised today, but the investigation of some of its violations and environmental damage remains open,” as carried by Reuters.
According to Iran’s Fars News Agency, Mousavi said today that procedures to release Stena Impero were “in final stages.”
On Tuesday, a day after Iran said the tanker was “free to leave,” Erik Hanell, President and CEO of Swedish firm Stena Bulk which owns the tanker, said in a statement:
“Despite public statements by Iranian authorities over the past three days that judicial proceedings have concluded, and the Stena Impero is free to leave Iran, the vessel remains detained at anchor in Bandar Abbas.”
“We continue to work hard to secure the release of the crew and vessel. Upon release of the vessel we will release a further statement,” Hanell said on Tuesday.
Several high-profile incidents in recent months have increased the tension between Iran and the West in the Middle East and in the most important oil shipping corridor in the world, the Strait of Hormuz, which is in close proximity to Iranian coasts.
In one of the most prominent incidents in the Gulf in the summer, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized the British-flagged oil tanker, in what appeared to be a retaliatory move after the British overseas territory Gibraltar seized the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1—released in mid-August—with the help of the UK Royal Marines at the beginning of July.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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