Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 9
The companies Dragon Oil and Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) shipped the next crude oil cargo to Iran, a source in Azerbaijan’s oil and gas market told Trend Aug. 9.
“This is already the second voyage of the Russian flag vessel VF Tanker-20 during this month to the Iranian port of Neka for the discharge of Turkmen origin crude oil,” said the source.
The source recalled that at the end of July, the same vessel (VF Tanker-20), carried crude oil produced by Dragon Oil, arrived on roads of Baku port, Azerbaijan. However, after one week delay, caused by detection of some undeclared cargo on board, suddenly rushed to Iranian port of Neka and disembarked crude oil to the terminal, operated by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
“On August 7, VF Tanker-20 embarked a new cargo of crude oil in Alaja port, Turkmenistan, and moved towards Baku, Azerbaijan. However, soon after exiting the territorial waters of Turkmenistan, the ship turned to the south and later arrived to Neka port in Iran,” added the source.
According to the source, this maneuver is linked to the fact, that Dragon Oil and ENOC, most likely, didn’t obtain necessary permissions from Turkmenistan’s government authorities (State Customs Services and others), allowing Turkmen crude oil shipment to Iran, and, therefore, issued cargo and custom documents, showing port of discharge Baku, Azerbaijan for further transit delivery to Europe.
It is not excluded, that Dragon Oil will not be able to obtain such permission at all, in connection with grave cooling in relations between Turkmenistan and Iran after a dispute over payment for Turkmen natural gas delivered to Iran and intention of Iranian side to sue Turkmenistan in international arbitration courts, said the source.
“Moreover, such ship maneuvers may be explained, as the attempts of Dragon Oil and ENOC to hide the true destination of crude oil shipment – Iran, and, therefore, to avoid being included into the list of companies, violating US sanctions against Iran,” noted the source.
The source also reminded that NIOC, NICO (trading structure of NIOC) and their related entities in various countries are included in the US sanctions list.
“At the moment, Dragon Oil and ENOC are loading the third crude oil cargo aboard vessel VF Tanker-13 (belonging to the same shipping company VF Tanker from Russia). Whether this vessel will go to Iran again, bypassing US sanctions and customs regulation of Turkmenistan, remains under question,” added the source.
Dragon Oil has been transporting oil from Turkmenistan via the Baku port since June 2010. The company has been operating in Turkmenistan since 1999 under a production sharing agreement (PSA) and it is one of the biggest foreign investors in the country.