America is trying to seize around 2 million barrels of what it thinks is Iranian oil, according to people familiar with the matter. This would be the latest attempt by Washington to block energy exports from the Islamic Republic.
The crude is on board the Achilleas under Liberian flag, which is heading to the US after the Justice Department issued an embargo order, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The order was issued before Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as US president on January 20, according to the people. Under Trump, Washington tightened sanctions on Iran in an effort to halt its oil sales, end its nuclear activities and prevent it from interfering in other Middle Eastern countries.
The Liberian-flagged ship carries 2 million barrels of crude that comes from Iran. Donald Trump had given the seizure order
He Greek owner of the Achilleas, Capital Ship Management Corp., alerted the US authorities on the possibility that he had unknowingly taken Iranian crude after initially believe it came from Iraqthe people said. The ship is fully loaded and could carry more than 2 million barrels, according to shipping documents.
A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.
Biden said he wants renegotiate a nuclear pact with Iran that Trump abandoned in 2018. But Biden’s candidate for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said last week that a rapprochement is “a long way off.”
However, Tehran said it is already increasing oil exports in anticipation of Biden taking a softer stance.. Several firms that monitor Iranian production, such as Petro-Logistics SA, Kpler Ltd. and SVB International LLC, have said that shipments are increasing.
Joe Biden wants to renegotiate nuclear policy with Iran and believes that he will have a white flag to continue selling his own oil
Iran extracted 2 million barrels of crude a day in December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That is, barely half of what it was producing before Trump left the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, and toughen sanctions. Of current production, only about 10% is exported, most of it to China.
The US has tried to seize Iranian oil before. Last year he intercepted vessels that, he said, they transported gasoline from the Islamic Republic to Venezuela.
Many Ships leaving Iran turn off their transponders, which makes it difficult to monitor and calculate the level of exports from the country, which the Government does not disclose.