An Iran-flag aframax tanker released from detention in June in Greece is beginning to take its seized cargo back in a transfer off Piraeus.
According to vessel trackers and sources familiar with the issue, the 115,400-dwt Lana (built 2003) has moved alongside the 70,400-dwt Ice Energy (built 2006) in order to take about 56,000 tons of crude oil carried on the latter.
The quantity had been transferred from the Lana to the Ice Energy earlier this year when Greek authorities were detaining the Russian-owned ship on behalf of the US government, which claimed it was carrying an Iranian oil cargo.
The government in Tehran reacted vehemently to the transfer, with elite Iranian soldiers boarding and seizing two laden Greek tankers — Delta Tankers’ 157,400-dwt Delta Poseidon (built 2011) and Polembros Shipping’s 150,000-dwt Prudent Warrior (built 2017) — at the end of May.
About 50 Filipino and Greek seafarers are all still held on board the two vessels at Bandar Abbas.
Iran then managed to turn the tables via a string of legal victories, with Greek courts arguing that the Lana’s cargo should be returned, as its Iranian ownership had not been conclusively proven, with the vessel’s cargo manifest and bill of lading showing the oil was loaded in Oman.
Barring any unforeseen developments, the ship-to-ship transfer from the Ice Energy to the Lana is expected to be concluded by the weekend.
The Lana, which was trading under the Russian flag as Pegas before it was arrested in Greece earlier this year, is then expected to head to international waters. Iran should then be expected to release the two Greek tankers and their seafarers.
The Ice Energy is owned by Procopiou family company Dynacom Tankers Management. It was chartered in May on behalf of the US government through Times Navigation, an Athens chartering company.
Times Navigation, represented by Greek businessman John Karageorgis, had appealed against the return of the cargo at the supreme court.
Greece’s top judges, however, threw out the application, ruling that the company had no legal standing to appeal.