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Iran: Tanker’s Controversial Oil Cargo Has Been Sold

Iranian state media announced Monday that the cargo of oil aboard the closely-watched tanker Adrian Darya 1 has been sold to an unnamed buyer. 

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has sold the oil of this ship and now the owner and purchaser of this oil will decide the destination of the cargo,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told state-owned IRIB News. 

As of Monday evening, the Darya was located southwest of the Greek island of Crete, making eight knots east-southeast. Since she departed Gibraltar August 18, her AIS broadcast has announced her destination as Kalamata, Greece, then Mersin, Turkey, then (as of Sunday) for orders. 

The United States has repeatedly warned the maritime community not to assist the Darya in delivering her cargo to Syria, which the U.S. believes to be the tanker’s actual destination. Most nations will no longer buy Iranian oil cargoes due to an American embargo, and Iran’s oil exports have fallen to an estimated 100,000 bpd from a pre-sanctions high of about 2.5 million bpd. Iran is a sponsor of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which itself faces an EU oil import embargo, and has continued shipping crude to Syrian refineries in spite of the sanctions regime. 

The Iranian VLCC Helm, which suffered an unspecified mechanical casualty in the Red Sea last Tuesday, remained adrift in the shipping lanes off Yanbu, Saudi Arabia on Monday. AIS data showed that she was accompanied by the AHTS Swissco Supplier and holding her position. 

The last Iranian tanker to break down in the area, the Happiness 1, ended stuck in the Saudi port of Jeddah for months, racking up port fees and repair expenses. She sought refuge in Jeddah in May 2019 and did not depart until July, after Iran publicized differences of opinion between Saudi and Iranian officials about the payment of repair bills. (Saudi Arabia is Iran’s primary regional rival.) The Helm is presently about 200 nm from Jeddah and has not yet made moves towards the port. 

Iran announced Monday that it will be dispatching the guided missile destroyer Sahand along with the helicopter carrier Kharg and a fleet auxiliary to the Gulf of Aden and Persian Gulf to provide maritime security for its merchant vessels in the region. The Sahand is Iran’s newest and most modern destroyer, and the deployment will be its first long-term voyage, according to PressTV. The deployment is not unprecedented – Iran has maintained an anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean since 2008 – but it parallels recent announcements by the UK and the U.S. regarding maritime security patrols in the Strait of Hormuz

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