Tankers Said by U.S. to Carry Iran Oil Reportedly Sold for Scrap

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August 20, 2013

An Iranian supertanker seen anchored off Singapore in this March 1, 2012 file photo. (c) REUTERS/Tim Chong

By Isaac Arnsdorf

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) — Three of eight tankers that the U.S. Treasury said helped Iran evade sanctions by shipping its oil were sold for demolition, according to data from IHS Maritime.

The sales of the Bicas, Atlantic and Caribo appeared on Coulsdon, England-based IHS Maritime’s database in July and this month. The unit of IHS Inc. provides data for the United Nations shipping agency. Each of the vessels is capable of hauling 2 million barrels of oil.

The Treasury froze the U.S. assets of Dimitris Cambis, a Greek businessman, in March after saying he bought the eight tankers through Impire Shipping Ltd. and other front companies and used them to load Iranian oil. The Treasury didn’t specify what assets were blocked. Cambis said at the time the allegations were “very bad rumors created by our competitors.”

Three calls and two e-mails to Cambis’ office in Athens on Aug. 2 and Aug. 16 weren’t returned. A spokeswoman for a law firm she said was representing Cambis did not answer three calls and two e-mails on Aug. 19. Another spokeswoman for the firm said Aug. 20 she has been unable to reach the attorneys involved.

European Union sanctions that started a year ago bar most tankers from hauling Iran’s crude because almost all ships are insured under the laws of the 28-nation bloc. Iran’s exports have slumped, reducing its oil revenue by 38 percent to $52.7 billion last year, according to the International Trade Centre, a UN and World Trade Organization agency. The U.S. and EU say Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons while the government in Tehran says it is for civilian purposes.

The tankers probably are being demolished because of their age, said Sverre Bjorn Svenning, an analyst at Fearnley Consultants A/S in Oslo. They were built more than 16 years ago and are worth as much in scrap as they are as operational ships, he said. NITC, Iran’s biggest tanker company, already has enough capacity to haul all the nation’s exports, Svenning said.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.
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