British Special Forces Detain Oil Tanker for Breaching Syria Sanctions

British forces seized a supertanker off Gibraltar doubted of shipping Iranian oil to Syria in breach of European and U.S. bans against the war-torn nation.

Grace 1, which may hold 2 MMbbl of crude, is now tied close to Gibraltar, a British overseas territory in southern Spain that monitors the plight between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel is registered in Panama.

The seizure, declared by Gibraltar’s authorities, could fuel tensions between Iran and the European Union as the UK, France, and Germany attempt to hold the Islamic Republic from moving away from the nuclear deal. The U.S. quit the agreement last year, proposing Iran to make good on an earlier warning that it will exceed the limits on its stockpile of supplemented uranium.

While Syrians will witness the immediate impact of pausing the crucial oil cargo to the country, the arrested vessel shows the problem Iran faces to find outlets for its crude as President Donald Trump’s administration increases penalties.

“We now have kept the vessel and its cargo,” stated Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister. “This action arose from data giving the Gibraltar government reasonable grounds to consider that the vessel, Grace 1, was performing in violation of European Union bans against Syria.”

Gibraltar didn’t say where the crude arrives from; however, shipping monitoring data suggest the vessel filled at Iran’s Kharg Island oil terminal in mid-April. After leaving the United Arab Emirates for several weeks, the ship started a journey around the southern tip of Africa, crossing Cape Town in early June, rather than taking the more direct path via the Suez Canal.