US Firms Won’t Touch Seized Iranian Oil Off Texas Coast


by Michael Katz at

U.S. energy companies are reportedly unwilling to unload about 800,000 barrels of seized Iranian oil from a Greek tanker sitting off the coast of Texas because of fears of reprisals from Tehran.

“Companies with any exposure whatsoever in the Persian Gulf are literally afraid to do it,” a Houston-based energy executive involved in the matter told The Wall Street Journal, citing worries “that the Iranians would take retribution against them.”

The U.S. commandeered the Suez Rajan tanker carrying the oil earlier this year after charging its Greek owner with sanctions evasion. The Coast Guard cleared the tanker for unloading, The Journal reported Tuesday, and federal prosecutors want to auction the oil, but companies that manage such transfers said they are too worried about Iranian reprisal to handle the oil. With the price of Brent crude oil at $79.63 a barrel, the cargo is worth about $63.7 million.

The question about how to deal with Iranian oil is emblematic of a much larger drama playing out between Washington and Tehran, the Journal reported, as the Biden administration has been quietly trying to restart talks on a nuclear deal, which the U.S. pulled out of during the Trump administration.

Iran has hijacked or attempted to seize Western oil tankers traveling through the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman along its southern shores. In fact, in retaliation for the U.S. seizing the Suez Rajan, the Financial Times reported Iran seized the Advantage Sweet, which was carrying Kuwaiti oil for U.S. company Chevron.

“We categorically reject the U.S.’s baseless allegations of hijacking foreign oil tankers by Iran,” a representative for Iran’s mission to the United Nations told the Journal. “Iran insists on the security and stability of the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. However, if oil tankers violate harmless passage, pollute the environment, or smuggle Iranian fuel, Iran does not hesitate to address those irregularities and infringements based on its laws as well as relevant international obligations.”

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