Iranian tanker reloads oil confiscated by US in Greece

Iranian-flagged tanker Lana (IMO 9256860), formerly Pegas, which had oil confiscated from it earlier this year and which combined sanctions against bother Russia and Iran – causing significant legal confusion as a result – has reloaded the oil that was confiscated by the US after Greek authorities approved the release of the cargo, according to a Reuters report, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

As a result of the original confiscation tensions rose between Greece and Iran, with the former finding itself stuck in the middle of international diplomatic disagreements. In April the US hired a tanker, the Ice Energy, to offload the oil on the Lana, which had been anchored off Greece.

The removal of the oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces in May to seize two Greek tankers in the Middle East Gulf. Neither of these has yet been released.

The Lana had been anchored off the Greek port of Piraeus since late July, waiting to reload part of its oil consignment held on the Ice Energy (IMO 9301732), which had been expected to sail to the US before Greece’s Supreme Court ruled the cargo should be returned to Iran.

The transfer process started on Friday August 12th and was expected to be completed in days, a source told Reuters.

A US State Department spokesperson said in July that Washington respected that the case “went through the Greek judicial process”.

Initially Greece impounded the tanker as part of the EU sanctions against Russia. In April the EU had banned Russian-flagged vessels from the ports of EU members. The Pegas had a Russian crew and had been Russia-flagged. However, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine it had changed its name to Lana and its flag to Iran – although it still had 19 Russian crew on board when it was seized by the Greek authorities.

The EU and the US have imposed sanctions on five Russian ships owned by PSB Lizing OOO, a subsidiary of Russian state bank PSB. The vessel was also among the five ships included in the US list. It had sailed from Marmara and was supposed to transfer its cargo to another ship in Kalamata. However, the owner and the manager of the Lana was now Transmorflot of Akhty, Russia. As this was not an EU-sanctioned business, there were preparations being made for the tanker’s release in April, but it developed mechanical problems, and as a result was towed to Piraeus. (IMN, April 22nd, May 9th). But then in mid-May the vessel was “re-detained” because the US put Transmorflot under sanctions.

By late May the script had changed somewhat, as the US’s concern now became the oil, which it said was Iranian. This led to legal disputes in several Greek courts, with the Supreme Court eventually deciding in favour of the Lana’s management and its representatives (IMN, May 16th, May 27th).

2003-built, Iran-flagged, 61,991 gt Lana is owned and managed by Transmorflot LLC of Akhty, Russia.

2006-built, Liberia-flagged, 38,832 gt Ice Energy is owned and ISM-managed by Baxter Trading Inc of Athens, Greece. Commercial manager is Dynacom Tankers management Ltd of the same address. It is entered with North of England Club on behalf of Baxter Trading Inc.