Washington had fought for Gibraltar to force Adrian-Darya-1 to remain docked. The US administration claimed that these tankers " finance the regime's harmful activities and spread terrorism" and that this ship, in particular, was heading for Syria, which is subject to economic sanctions.
For twenty-four hours, this ship has been sailing off the coast of Lebanon and Syria. He has wandered in the Mediterranean since leaving Gibraltar on August 18, after six weeks of immobilization. The most complete blur reigns over its destination and the fate of its cargo. Monday, he was in international waters, about 80 kilometers off Tripoli in northern Lebanon, according to the monitoring site TankerTrackers.
The day before, the vessel, which carries 2.1 million barrels of crude worth 126 million euros, was further north, off the Syrian Tartous port, according to the MarineTraffic tracking site. In late August, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly targeted the city of Tartus on Twitter, claiming to have "reliable information" showing that the tanker was heading towards her.Read also Washington issues warrant to seize Iranian tanker "Grace-1" released by Gibraltar
Cargo transfer at sea
For experts, the most plausible scenario is a transfer of the cargo to smaller tankers for a so - called ship-to-ship operation . According to TankerTrackers, the vessel has to unload part of its cargo if it wants to cross the Suez Canal and return to Iran. Two scenarios are possible, says Samir Madani, co-founder of TankerTrackers. The first is a transfer of cargo to the Sandro ship, owned by a wealthy Syrian businessman; in this case, "the oil will probably go to Syria" , while the Syrian regime, supported by Iran, is subject to US economic sanctions. But if the oil is unloaded on other Iranian ships, second hypothesis, it will probably end up in Iran, according to Madani.
Tensions between the United States and Iran
In recent weeks, Greece, Turkey and Lebanon had announced that they had not received an application for anchoring the vessel as it approached the eastern Mediterranean. Adrian-Darya-1, then named Grace-1 , was seized on July 4 off Gibraltar, suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions against that country. According to the British authorities in Gibraltar, he was released because Tehran had pledged not to send his cargo to Syria.
The US Treasury on Friday sanctioned the tanker and his captain. Iran said it sold the oil aboard Adrian-Darya-1 , without revealing the identity of the buyer, assuring that it could not be "transparent" about the destination of its oil while Washington is trying to 'bully' potential buyers. This case has crystallized tensions between Tehran and Washington, rising since the unilateral US withdrawal in 2018 of an agreement reached in 2015 to frame the Iranian nuclear, and the reinstatement of draconian sanctions against Tehran.Read also The Iranian tanker "Grace-1", immobilized for more than a month, left Gibraltar