Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

British tanker could be released by Iran on Sunday, says owner

The British-flagged 'Stena Impero' could be released within hours

A speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. AP
A speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. AP

A British-flagged tanker detained by Tehran in July could be released on Sunday, its owner said.

Confirmation came from the chief executive of the Swedish firm that owns the vessel and was later backed up by an Iranian official.

"We have received information now this morning that it seems like they will release the ship Stena Impero within a few hours," Erik Hanell, chief executive of Stena Bulk told Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

"So we understand that the political decision to release the ship has been taken."

Iran detained the Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19, two weeks after the Gibraltar government detained the Iranian Grace 1 tanker on suspicion of violating EU sanctions by transporting oil to Syria.

The UK government has insisted the two situations are not linked, saying that the detention of the Grace 1 was in accordance with the law and to enforce international sanctions while the Stena Impero was taken in an international shipping channel unlawfully.

On September 4 Iran released seven of the crew members on "humanitarian" grounds, leaving 16 Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino sailors on board — the minimum requirement to operate the ship.

“After the issuing of the ruling for the end of detention of the English tanker Stena Impero this vessel will soon, and after the passing of 65 days, begin its movement from the port of Bandar Abbas toward international waters,” said Allahmorad Afifipour, the head of the Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran in Hormozgan Province.

He did not provide any additional information on when the tanker may be released.

Updated: September 22, 2019 09:07 PM

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