Illicit Iranian Oil Shipment Gets Shut Down

( Iran suffered an economic loss this week, when an international shipping company stopped an attempted illicit transfer of crude oil from Iran.

According to a Washington Free Beacon report, Iran is believed to have loaded up a tanker with petroleum products. It was done at the Tombak Port, and then sent to do a ship-to-ship transfer with a vessel operated by Celsius Shipping. That company has a partnership with Maersk Tankers, a company based in Singapore.

Celsius crew members were alerted by United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a group that monitors Iran’s sea movements. The group warned the ship that the other vessel in the trade, named the “Ocean Schooner,” likely had crude oil from Iran, which is heavily sanctioned.

In early December, UANI saw the Ocean Schooner docked in Iran. In response, they acted quickly, sending information and a letter to leaders at Celsius. That letter gave them information about the vessel’s links to Iran as well as its movements.

According to the Free Beacon, which obtained shipping information, the Schooner was at sea about to engage in a transfer with the “Celsius Everett.”

As with other similar Iran shipping problems, the Schooner was “going dark.” In other words, it had disabled all of its tracking devices.

UANI sent a warning to the Celsius crew saying if they continued to transfer with Schooner, it could be in violation of U.S. sanction laws. Celsius then stopped the transfer immediately.

The chief commercial officer at Maersk, Birgitte Bisgaard, wrote a letter to UANI. The Free Beacon obtained a copy of that letter, which read:

“The timeliness of your information was extremely helpful. Maersk Tankers and Celsius decided that the CELSIUS EVERETT would not accept the cargo from the OCEAN SCHOONER and terminated the ship-to-ship transfer between the two vessels. We have also decided to refrain from engaging in any transaction with the OCEAN SHOONER [sic] or its owner in the future.”

Member of UANI praised the Celsius crew members’ actions. They said more companies are starting to realize the dangers that doing business with Iran and businesses associated with them bring about.

Claire Jungman, the chief of staff for UANI, told the Free Beacon:

“With every responsible action taken by the international shipping community, such as the action taken by Maersk, it becomes harder for Iran to conduct these illicit operations.”

Iran tries many different tactics to hide the origins of the oil that it tries to export. Since there are big sanctions on Iranian exports such as oil by the U.S., countries that do business with Iran can be subject to similar sanctions. That’s why it’s so important for Iran to hide the fact that the oil is theirs, as it’s a big source of revenue for the country.

This incident also goes to prove how important independent watchdogs like UANI are to the efforts of stopping Iran. There’s only so much countries like the U.S. can do on their own with Iran operating in the open seas.