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Rare Iranian Oil Cargo Reaches U.S. Shores

The first Iranian oil shipment in years reached the U.S. shores in March, Reuters has reported, citing data from the Energy Information Administration.

The data showed that more than 1 million barrels of Iranian crude reached the United States two months ago, which, Reuters notes, took place a month after United States authorities seized a tanker carrying Iranian crude.

The agency also notes in its report that the previous time the EIA reported Iranian crude in the country’s import mix was last October, again after the U.S. seized an Iranian oil cargo.

The shipment that the U.S. detained earlier this year was carried by a Liberian-flagged tanker and was believed to be some 2 million barrels. The grounds for the detainment, as laid out in a forfeiture complaint at a U.S. District Court, were that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has created a scheme to covertly ship Iranian oil to a customer outside Iran.

Later, an Emirati oil and gas company owned by the ruler of the emirate of Fujairah surprised U.S. authorities by claiming ownership of the cargo.

Fujairah International Oil & Gas Corp. told the District of Columbia that the 2 million barrels of crude oil originally came from Iraq. However, it did not disclose the supplier. The Emirati company, which is owned by the Fujairah emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, then sold the crude to an undisclosed buyer from China.

Iran meanwhile denied ownership of the cargo, with a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry saying, “This shipment does not belong to the Iranian government. It belongs to the private sector.” 

The latest in the Iranian cargo saga was reported by the Associated Press, which said earlier today that the U.S. had sold the cargo it had seized in February. The report cited court documents and official statistics.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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