Hide And Seek On The High Seas

6 Sep 2019: Iranian Crude Oil Exports Continue to Decline

Just when you think you have seen it all in the ongoing conflict between Iran and the United States, a report emerges that a representative of the U.S. State Department offered to pay millions of U.S. dollars to the master of the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 to divert the disputed tanker to an American designated destination. The Adrian Darya 1 is the ex-Grace 1, the VLCC that was detained by Gibraltar under suspicion of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

After the vessel was released and renamed, it set sail again. Iran provided the authorities in Gibraltar explicit written assurances that the 2 million barrels of Iranian crude oil onboard the vessel would not end up in Syria. However, the vessel, which switched off its AIS (Automatic Identification System), has been skirting the Syrian coastline and the expectation is that it will somehow attempt to deliver its cargo to its original destination, either directly or by using ship-to-ship transfers to other Iranian vessels in the region.

The incident has made Adrian Darya 1 the most widely followed (and closely tracked) vessel in the world and there appears to be little chance that she will be able to discharge her cargo unnoticed. The game of cat and mouse continues.

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