Iran says it captured British oil tanker; oil prices move higher
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it seized a British tanker Friday in the Strait of Hormuz, claiming it failed to follow international marine regulations.
The IRGC took the British tanker, Stena Impero, to a coastal area and turned it over to maritime authorities, according to Iran State TV.
Reuters reported that a second British-operated tanker had also taken a sharp northerly turn and was heading toward Iran after passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. Reuters said the source on the movement of Liberian flagged tanker Mesdar was Refinitiv data.
The British government said it was seeking information on the seizure of a tanker, following initial reports on the Stena Impero.
“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.
The U.S. said it was aware of reports that Iranian forces seized a tanker.
“We are aware of reports that Iranian forces seized a British oil tanker. This is the second time in just over a week the UK has been the target of escalatory violence by the Iranian regime. The U.S. will continue to work with our allies and partners to defend our security and interests against Iran’s malign behavior,” said National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis.
The move by Iran follows the seizure of an Iranian tanker earlier this month by the British Royal Marines on suspicion it was breaking European sanctions and taking oil to Syria. Iran has called for the release of that ship, and earlier Friday, a British court in Gibraltar extended the detention of the Iranian oil tanker.
The move comes a day after President Donald Trump told reporters that the USS Boxer downed a drone belonging to Iran. Iran responded by saying it did not own the drone, and the U.S. may have shot down one of its own.
“I think the drone situation and the Gibraltar ruling were just humiliating to the Iranians, and they decided to act. Their patience has run out,” said Kilduff.
Oil prices moved higher, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures settling up about 0.6% at $55.63 per barrel. Brent, the international bench mark was trading up 1.7% at just under $63 per barrel.
“This is a big escalation ahead of the weekend, and the risk premium that had come out of the market over the past week is going to come rushing back in,” said John Kilduff, partner with Again Capital.
— Press TV (@PressTV) July 19, 2019
2019-07-19 – 19.55
Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management can confirm that at approximately 1600 BST on 19th July UK registered vessel Stena Impero (built 2018, 49,683 DWT) was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters. We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.
There are 23 seafarers aboard. There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers. The priority of both vessel owner Stena Bulk and ship manager Northern Marine Management is the safety and welfare of the crew.
Northern Marine Management has not been able to establish contact directly with the vessel since it was notified of the incident at approximately 1600 Today, 19th July 2019.
We are in close contact with UK government authorities.