Greece warns oil tankers to avoid waters near Iran

May 31, 2022 - 23:11

TEHRAN - Greece has warned oil tankers and other vessels flying the country’s flag to avoid sea waters close to Iran following the seizure of two Greek-flagged oil tankers by Iranian forces last week.

Ioannis Plakiotakis, Greece’s shipping minister, told the Financial Times he had issued a “strong recommendation” to Greece-flagged vessels to avoid all “sea waters under Iran’s jurisdiction” in a move that had the potential to destabilize tanker markets at a time when oil prices were already at the highest level in a decade. 

Greece is a shipping powerhouse with almost a quarter of all oil supertankers sailing under its flag. The Strait of Hormuz, which separates Iran from the Persian Gulf states, is just 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and accounts for about a third of all seaborne global oil trade daily. 

Last month Athens seized the Pegas oil tanker for carrying Iranian crude. U.S. authorities are reported to have last week taken the Iranian crude from the tanker. Iran has indicated its action in seizing the tanker was designed primarily to discourage other countries in helping the U.S. seize its oil. 

Officials in Tehran has said the seizure was in retaliation for Greece’s move in seizing the Pegas tanker off its coast and then transferring its cargo to the United States. However, Iran has indicated it has no intention to antagonize Greece.

“Our ties [ with Greece] must not be hampered by deeply shortsighted miscalculations, including highway robbery on the command of a third party,” said Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, in a post on Twitter on Saturday. 

In July 2019, Iran also captured a British-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz. The move was in response to the seizure of the Iranian oil-carrying vessel Grace 1 by Britain near Gibralter nearly two weeks earlier.

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