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Iran Denies Knowledge Of Oil Tanker U.S. Wants To Seize

Iran has denied any knowledge of an oil tanker that the United States has targeted for seizure because it was used to export crude from Iran despite U.S. sanctions, Bloomberg reports, citing Iran's deputy oil minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia.

"I don't know anything about it," Zamaninia told media this Sunday.

The U.S. last week filed a forfeiture complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that all oil aboard a Liberian-flagged vessel, the Achilleas, is subject to forfeiture under U.S. terrorism forfeiture laws. The Department of Justice has ordered the vessel to sail to the U.S.

The supertanker is carrying 2 million barrels of what the United States believes is Iranian crude oil traveling to the U.S., Bloomberg reported last week, citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The very large crude carrier is traveling between Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Offshore Oil Port of Louisiana, according to MarineTraffic, with an estimated time of arrival at the end of this week.

Iran recently said it was ramping up production in anticipation of the Biden administration lifting Trump-era sanctions, and it was also boosting exports.

"We set the highest record of exports of refined products in the history of the oil industry during the embargo period," Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said in January.

Zanganeh added, in response to media questions, "I am not worried about regaining Iran's lost oil market share, and oil buyers do not limit themselves to one or two sellers." If the U.S. sanctions were lifted, he said, "We will return to the market stronger than before, sooner than you might think."

The seizure of the tanker—initiated by the former administration—might complicate efforts to lift sanctions, according to Bloomberg, especially since both sides have essentially said they would only act after the other side acts first.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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