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Captain Of Controversial Iranian Tanker Wants Out: Report

Adrian Darya 1

The infamous Adrian Darya 1 tanker, which is near the Syrian coast right now and expected to deliver its cargo of crude oil, is having problems with its captain, Fox News has reported citing unnamed “intelligence sources.”

According to the report, the captain, Akhilesh Kumar, “has been refusing to cooperate with a planned oil delivery and has asked to be dismissed or replaced.”

According to TankerTrackers.com, a direct delivery from the Adrian Darya 1 to the Syrian coast is a lot more unlikely than a ship-to-ship transfer to four tankers that are already in the area. As of Tuesday, the Adrian Darya 1 was 70 km off the Syrian coast, TankerTrackers.com co-founder Samir Madani told Oilprice. The maritime border of Syria is a little over 22 km from the coast, he added.

Indeed, Iranian tankers have used ship-to-ship transfers to evade U.S. sanctions frequently and now the Adrian Darya 1 has an additional reason to do it: the Gibraltar authorities released the tanker with the UK’s blessing after Tehran promised the vessel would not deliver the oil to Syria. Therefore a direct delivery from the Adrian Darya 1 to Syria would constitute a breach of that promise and would rekindle tensions between Iran and the UK.

The Adrian Darya 1 approached Syrian waters on Sunday and slowed down, according to data from Tanker Trackers.com. The data also showed another two tankers in the vicinity and two en route. The latest images show four tankers near the Syrian coast, with one of them almost certainly having delivered a cargo of crude to the Syrian port of Baniyas.

The Adrian Darya 1, formerly Grace 1, was seized by the Gibraltar authorities earlier this year on charges of carrying oil for Syria, which is under EU sanctions. After a retaliatory seizure of a UK-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz and extensive negotiations, Gibraltar released the Adrian Darya 1.

Iran has not yet released the UK vessel, the Stena Impero. The latest update about it was a statement by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who said at the end of August, “We will expedite the legal process for the British tanker that is now in our custody after they basically committed sea crimes by taking our ship.” 

By Irina Slav For Oilprice.com

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