BP oil tanker kept in Persian Gulf fearing Iran retaliation
An oil tanker run by British Petroleum (BP) is reportedly kept in the Persian Gulf in fear it could be seized by Iran in retaliation for impounding of its vessel in Gibraltar last week.
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According to a report by Bloomberg on Monday, the British Heritage, able to move around one million barrels of oil, was sailing towards Iraq's Basrah terminal before making an "abrupt" U-turn over the weekend.
A person with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that BP Plc had expressed concern that the tanker, which is now off the Saudi Arabian coast, could become a target if Iran sought to respond to the British marines’ seizure of its oil tanker on Thursday.
The ship was due to transport crude oil from Basrah to northwest Europe, however, it did not collect that cargo and the booking was canceled, the report said.
Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, boarded and impounded Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, upon a request from the United States.
Later that day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s ambassador to the country, Rob Macaire, to express its strong protest at the move. He was told that the British Royal Marines’ move was tantamount to “maritime piracy.”
Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, has said the seizure was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.
However, the British-claimed overseas territory rejected the claim on Friday, saying that Gibraltar had acted independently.
Gibraltar’s position comes as a British Foreign Office spokesman had welcomed the move on Thursday, describing it as a “firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime.”