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Seized Iranian Tanker Fully Laden With Crude Oil

The Government of Gibraltar has confirmed that the Iranian supertanker allegedly on its way to Syria was fully laden with 2 million barrels of crude oil, Reuters reported on Monday.

“The results of these tests conclusively prove and confirm the information disseminated last week by the Gibraltar Government and contradict the statements of some commentators from outside the jurisdiction who had speculated that the cargo on the vessel was not crude,” the government spokesman said.

The Panamanian-flagged Grace 1, which was seized last Thursday by the British Royal Marines, was assumed to be carrying crude oil, but some raised doubts. Iran denies that the tanker was on its way to Syria, in defiance of EU sanctions against Syria, and has likened the rather dramatic seizure—reportedly done at the behest of the United States—to “an act of piracy”.

Iran alleged on Monday that it is under no obligation to adhere to EU sanctions. “Iran is neither a member of the EU nor subject to any European oil embargo. Last I checked, EU was against extraterritoriality. UK's unlawful seizure of a tanker with Iranian oil on behalf of #B Team is piracy, pure and simple," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Monday. The #B Team referred disparagingly to President Trump’s administration.

Despite some setbacks, Iran remains hopeful that its oil exports will improve, although its oil exports have fallen to below 300,000 bpd–lower than Iran may have anticipated since the sanctions went into effect.

This conflict in the Gulf has stoked fears that oil prices could skyrocket should the conflict escalate further, even to as high as $325 per barrel should tanker traffic in the Strait of Hormuz be disrupted, according to a 2018 study by the Riyadh-based King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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