Leon Shipping & Trading, a low-profile tanker owner from Greece, is believed to be behind one of several tanker sales reportedly carried out by Dubai-based player Gulf Energy Maritime (GEM).

Greek brokers identified Leon Shipping as buyer of the 75,000-dwt Gulf Cobalt (built 2009) for $17.8m. Managers at the Athens-based company declined to comment.

Leon Shipping hasn't made a ship acquisition in more than two years. The company has been so far active in smaller oil carriers, of which it is currently managing four, all built in 2008 and 2009.

Panagiotis Efthimiadis-led Leon Shipping was known to be planning to expand. As TradeWinds reported the last time the company bought a tanker, however, long-range 1 (LR1) tankers such as the Golf Cobalt were not on its radar.

A confirmation of the deal would be a first step to substantiate and bring some clarity to reports that GEM has been selling as many as four LR1 tankers, which would be half its fleet in that market segment.

As TradeWinds reported earlier this week, the company is believed to have shed the identical sisterships Gulf Crystal and Gulf Castle as well at the same price of about $17.8m. Some brokers said GEM also sold an older unit, the 75,000-dwt Gulf Stream (built 2004), for $10.4m.

No buyers have been so far identified in these deals.

GEM is part-owned by the Emirates National Oil Co (ENOC).