MaritimeOcean shipping

Egypt ups ante in Mideast with seizure of Iranian crude cargo

Tanker seizure came before another incident involving crude cargo off of Gibraltar.

Egypt seized a tanker loaded with Iranian crude oil in the latest incident to rattle the tense Mideast trade lane.

Middle East Monitor reported that a Ukranian tanker was arrested 10 days ago as it was transiting the Suez Canal. News of the vessel seizure came after an Egyptian court sentenced one person and five in absentia on charges of spying on Iran.

It was not immediately clear whether the ship was Ukranian-flagged or owned. The name of the tanker and quantity of oil it was carrying were also not immediately available.

The incident is the latest blow against Iran since the United States reimposed sanctions on the Middle Eastern country for its alleged violations of a nuclear disarmament treaty.

In response to the sanctions, Iran is believed to be behind an attack on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that the sanctions were “destabilizing” to the region. But Egypt is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, which is fighting a proxy war with Iran in Yemen.      

On July 4, British Royal Marines seized the Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar. The tanker is suspected of bringing about 2 million barrels of Iranian crude oil to Syria, in violation of sanctions placed by the European Union.

An Iranian official said the country could reciprocate by seizing a British tanker transiting the Middle Eastern Gulf.

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.

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