Fri, May 17, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Iranian fuel oil unloaded in China


A tanker carrying Iranian fuel oil in a breach of US sanctions has unloaded the cargo into storage tanks near Zhoushan, China, according to ship tracking data on Refinitiv Eikon.

The discharging of the nearly 130,000 tonnes of Iranian fuel oil on board the Marshal Z, confirmed by a representative of the oil storage terminal, marks the end of an odyssey for the cargo that began four months ago.

Reuters on March 20 reported that some Iranian fuel oil had managed to evade US sanctions on petroleum exports by using ship-to-ship transfers involving four different ships and by using forged documents that masked the cargoes as originating from Iraq.

A second representative from the terminal operator, Zhoushan Jinrun Petroleum Transfer Co, said that the cargo could not be Iranian oil, as the terminal had not received official shipments from Iran in at least the past four years.

The unloading of the fuel oil comes less than two weeks after US President Donald Trump’s administration stepped up moves to choke off Iran’s oil exports by scrapping waivers it had granted to big buyers of the nation’s crude oil, including China.

Refined products such as fuel oil, mainly used to power ship engines and generate electricity, were not covered by the temporary waivers granted on the sanctions reintroduced in November last year.

Reuters has since January followed the movements of the Marshal Z using ship-tracking data available daily.

From March 22 until arriving at the Jinrun terminal on Wednesday last week, the vessel maintained a constant draught — how deep the ship sits in the water — of 15.9m, data showed.

That indicated the cargo was not discharged before reaching the terminal, about 30km south of Zhoushan.

On Sunday, the ship finished unloading the fuel oil as indicated by a change in its draught to 9m and left the terminal, the data showed.

The Marshal Z in January took on the cargo from a larger tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. It transferred the fuel oil to a second tanker, the Libya, off the Malaysian port of Malacca later that month, data showed.

However, potential buyers wary of the US sanctions steered clear of the Marshal Z’s cargo. By March 22, the tanker took the fuel oil back from the Libya and anchored off the Malaysian and Singaporean coasts.

The vessel lingered off Singapore and Malaysia in March and last month, before sailing to Hong Kong and finally to Liuheng Island off China’s Zhejiang Province, data showed.

Reuters was unable to determine the financial terms surrounding the cargo’s unloading, but industry participants said it would likely have been on offer at a lower price to ensure a sale.

Reuters was unable to confirm who purchased the cargo.

Reporters have not been able to determine the owners of the Marshal Z.

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