Iran Tanker Nears Syria, May Unload Cargo Via Ship-To-Ship Transfer

By Irina Slav

Grace 1

The notorious Adrian Darya 1, formerly Grace 1, tanker is near Syria, two tanker-tracking service providers have reported, although they differ on the proximity.

According to TankerTrackers.com, the Adrian Darya 1 yesterday stopped in the international waters between Syria and Cyprus, supporting its report with a satellite image of the vessel. TankerTrackers also said two other vessels—Suezmax tankers—were in the vicinity and one more Suezmax was en route there. These would probably be used to unload the cargo of the Adrian Darya 1 and deliver it to Syria.

Meanwhile, the AP quoted another tanker tracking data provider, MarineTraffic.com, as reporting the Adrian Darya was moving slowly about 50 nautical miles off the Syrian coast as of Sunday. The agency went on to quote U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as saying in a tweet “We have reliable information that the tanker is underway and headed to Tartus, Syria. I hope it changes course.”

The Adrian Darya 1 was seized by the Gibraltar authorities earlier this year on charges of carrying oil for Syria, which is under EU sanctions. After a retaliatory seizure of a UK-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz and extensive negotiations, Gibraltar released the Adrian Darya 1 after it received Tehran’s assurance that the vessel will not deliver its cargo to Syria. However, as Tanker Trackers.com notes, a lot of Iran oil deliveries circumventing sanctions take place in the open sea, via ship-to-ship transfers and this is most likely the way this oil cargo would reach Syria as well.

The three vessels the trackers spotted heading towards the place where the Adrian Darya has slowed down can each carry 1 million barrels of crude. Two of these are sailing loaded and would need to unload their cargo first to take oil from the Adrian Darya, and the third, Silvia 1, may have already unloaded at the Syrian port of Baniyas although the unloading has not been confirmed.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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