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The Caribbean island state of St. Kitts & Nevis has stripped four oil tankers of its flag after an NBC News investigation found that as many as 15 tankers under various flags had manipulated their trackers to skirt the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.
An earlier investigation by NBC News found that those tankers were switching off trackers to hide the fact that they had traveled to Iranian waters to load oil for exports in violation of the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry.
According to the data, Iran is exporting as much as 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), using ship-to-ship transfers with transponders turned off to avoid detection, skirting U.S. sanctions. The daily average number compares with an estimate of 227,000 bpd made in a U.S. Congressional report, NBC’s Raf Sanchez wrote on Twitter.
TankerTrackers.com first reported in 2018, after President Trump reintroduced sanctions on Iranian exports, that Iranian tankers were turning off their transponders to hide the destination of their journeys. At the time, most tanker tracking data came precisely from transponders and port authorities, which made most Iranian tanker movement reports unreliable.
After the NBC News report was aired earlier this month, St. Kitts & Nevis stripped four tankers of its flag, the Giessel, the Ekaterina, the Lerax, and the Amfitriti.
“The St. Kitts & Nevis International Ship Registry takes any violations of imposed sanctions very seriously and will act swiftly and effectively to deal with infringements involving any vessels flying its flag,” it said in a emailed statement to NBC News.
“Such was the case with the tanker Giessel which was de-flagged on August 4th following press reports that it had visited an Iranian port,” the registry told NBC News.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com