A tanker suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil has offloaded near Texas, the AP reports, adding the cargo was offloaded on another tanker.
The U.S. seized the Suez Rajan in April this year, prompting quick retaliation from Iran, which seized a Chinese-owned, Turkish-operated tanker that was loaded with crude for delivery to Chevron.
Iran claimed that the tanker collided with an unidentified Iranian vessel just hours prior to its seizure, with several crew members reportedly falling overboard while others were left injured. The tanker then fled the scene and ignored radio calls for eight hours before a court ordered its seizure.
The Suez Rajan, according to an FT report from June, had received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to import Iranian crude into the United States. Its cargo is some 800,000 barrels of crude and, per an unnamed former member of the Biden administration, its arrival in Texas was likely the result of a deal that got struck between the administration and the owners and operators of the vessel.
That deal appears to not have involved Iran, however. The AP reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had warned that those involved in the offloading of the cargo from the Suez Rajan “should expect to be struck back.”
The Suez Rajan was never officially seized by American forces, the AP recalls. The tanker sat for months off the coast of Singapore after an activist group sounded an alarm that it was carrying Iranian crude, and then it suddenly set off for the U.S. Gulf Coast. Two tanker seizures from Iranian forces followed in the Persian Gulf.
At the time, a senior Iranian military official warned against offloading the cargo of the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel.
“We hereby declare that we would hold any oil company that sought to unload our crude from the vessel responsible and we also hold America responsible,” Read Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s naval section said.
This latest development comes at a particularly sensitive moment in U.S.-Iranian relations, with the two countries negotiating over five Iranian-Americans being held in Tehran, billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets, the supply of Iranian drones to Russia, and a broader military buildup in the Gulf.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com