Brazil court orders Petrobras to fuel stranded Iranian ships

Brazilian Supreme Court judge Justice Dias Toffoli has ordered state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA to refuel two Iranian ships stranded off the country’s coast.

Petrobas previously had refused so to do for fear of US sanctions, but the Rio de Janeiro-based company said that it would comply with the decision.

The judge declined to comment because the case was filed under seal.

Petrobras CEO Roberto Castello Branco told Reuters on Friday July 26th that the company would obey the Supreme Court order.

The two ships Iranian vessels have been stranded for more than a month off the port of Paranagua, about 450km south of Sao Paulo, unable to return to Iran for lack of fuel.

Iran buys a third of all Brazil’s corn exports, but had threatened to cut its imports from the country unless the ships were refuelled.

Brazil has a long history of good relations with Iran, but recently elected President Jair Bolsonaro’s has committed Brazil to ripping up the country’s traditional foreign policy and siding with US President Donald Trump.

Petrobas has said that it could face “significant losses” if it was included under US sanctions. Brazil’s Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said after the court decision that “we have been calling attention to the fact that Petrobras could be subject to losses in its US activities and that remains the case”.