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A tanker carrying crude oil destined for Chevron has been seized by the Iranian Navy, the United States Navy said on Thursday. The tanker had reportedly been involved in a collision with an Iranian vessel in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran's Navy seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, Advantage Sweet, in the Gulf of Oman shortly after the tanker hit another Iranian vessel, Iran's Navy said on Thursday. The oil tanker— had departed the Mina Saud Port in Kuwait and was destined for Houston, Texas, after being commissioned by U.S. oil giant Chevron.
The crude oil tanker is Turkish owned and operated. The U.S. Navy has demanded that the vessel be released, asserting that the vessel had been seized in international waters, halfway between Iran and the Omani coast. Ship tracking data confirms the location of the vessel at the time of seizure.
The Iranian Navy said it was taking the Suezmax crude oil tanker back to Iran for investigation.
The manager of the vessel is listed as Turkey-based Genel Denizcilik Nakliyati AS.
The U.S. Navy has accused Iran of interfering with navigational rights in international waters. "Iran's continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy," the U.S. Navy said in a statement, adding that Iran had seized at least five commercial vessels in the Middle East over the last two years.
The vessel had left a port in Kuwait and traversed the narrow Strait of Hormuz—a dangerous waterway that is fraught with piracy and seizures. The collision reportedly happened in the Gulf of Oman, on the other side of the Strait of Hormuz.
Maritime security company Dryad has indicated that the vessel could have been detained for "leverage or signaling".
"The working hypothesis at the moment is that it could either be an arbitrary detention of a vessel by Iran in response to the U.S. sailing its first unmanned vessel through the region last week -- as a show of force," Dryad founding partner Munro Anderson said.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.