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Iran: Seized UK-Flagged Oil Tanker “Free To Leave”

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.

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 Stena Impero, owned by a Swedish company, 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. 

Iran has said that it had impounded the UK-flagged vessel Stena Impero because it had violated international maritime rules in the Strait of Hormuz.

The tanker is “is now free to leave Iran with the end of legal proceedings,” Iran’s Fars news agency reported on Monday.

“Iran has decided to condone the violation of international maritime regulations by the Stena Impero,” the agency quoted the government spokesman as saying. The oil tanker is “now free to leave the Southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, as the legal formalities have been observed and completed,” according to Iran.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Stena Impero actually started to move toward leaving Iran.

Stena Bulk, the company that owns the UK-flagged tanker, told Swedish television SVT on Sunday that the tanker could be released “soon.”

“We have received information now this morning that it seems like they will release the ship Stena Impero within a few hours. So we understand that the political decision to release the ship has been taken,” Stena Bulk CEO Erik Hanell told SVT on Sunday.

On September 5, Stena Bulk said that seven out of 23 crew members of the Stena Impero had been released and were travelling to a safe location.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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