1.5.15

MV Maersk Tigris: 6 ships passing the Strait of Hormuz under close Navy monitoring







Six U.S.-flagged vessels are now in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz, one container ship, three offshore supply ships and two vehicle carriers.   Four American-flagged vessels have transited the Strait of Hormuz , all four ships were Military Sealift Command or U.S. government contract vessels.   They are under close monitoring , a U.S. Navy ship in the area that can respond in the event it’s required.


Following the April 29 seizure of the M/V Maersk Tigris, U.S. Navy warships will now accompany American flagged merchant ships through the Strait of Hormuz to prevent harassment. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) “would assign forces as they deem necessary” to “prevent harassment and possible interdiction by possible IRGCN costal patrols” . The ships at NAVCENT’s disposal for the accompanying mission in the strait and the Persian Gulf include five Cyclone-class patrol craft, four Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG51), mine counter measures (MCM-6)) ship USS Devastator and guided missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60).

[April 30 Marshall-Islands flag boxship seized in Strait of Hormuz,U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington surrounded there on 24th]
Rickmers Shipmanagement, the Singapore-based company that has chartered the Maersk Tigris, said it was concerned for the 24 crew members on board, most of whom come from Eastern Europe and Asia.He said the vessel was running along a normal commercial route between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and that the company did not yet know why Iran had stopped it.


The M/V Maersk Tigris was seized at the request of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, Iran's semi-official news agency FARS is reporting, citing informed sources. The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel was seized after a relevant court order was issued, according to the source, indicating that the IPMO had monetary differences with the ship owner.
Even though the Strait of Hormuz is in Iranian territorial waters, "innocent passage" is applied -- ships are authorized to pass through the body of water assuming they abide by all the rules of the sea -- because it is an internationally recognized shipping lane.
A U.S.-flagged ship was recently intercepted by an Iran Revolutionary Guard naval patrol, .   The incident occurred on April 24th when four Iranian naval vessels surrounded the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington in the Strait of Hormuz. "the Iranians encircled the Kensington and followed the ship on its course for a period of time before withdrawing and breaking away." After that, the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet issued a notice to mariners about the incident.  Referring to March 28's incident, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said it was "inappropriate" for the Iranians to fire the warning shots.


USS Farragut, seen here, was dispatched to the Persian Gulf April 28 after Iranian forces seized a cargo ship, prompting its shipmaster to send a distress signal picked up the U.S. Navy.



53 min ago (2015-04-28 14:51)




“At approximately 0905 Zulu, April 28, M/V Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel, was approached by several Iranian IRGCN patrol vessels while crossing the Strait of Hormuz 'Iranian territorial waters'  transiting inbound in the Strait of Hormuz. The master was contacted and directed to proceed further into Iranian territorial waters. He declined and one of the IRGCN craft fired shots across the bridge of the Maersk Tigris. The master complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island. NAVCENT directed a DDG (USS Farragut) to proceed at best speed to the nearest location of Maersk Tigris, and directed aircraft to observe the interaction between the Maersk vessel and the IRGCN craft. NAVCENT is communicating with representatives of the shipping company and we continue to monitor the situation. According to information received from the vessel’s operators, there are no Americans aboard.”

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the cargo ship’s master had initially refused an Iranian order to move further into Iranian waters, but after the warning shots were fired the MV Maersk Tigris complied.Warren said the cargo ship has been boarded by Iranians, but no one has been injured and no Americans are involved.Warren said the cargo ship issued a distress call and the US Naval Forces Central Command, based in the area, sent a US destroyer and an aircraft to the area of the incident to monitor the situation.  Pentagon says ship that Iran seized was from Marshall Islands   A cargo ship that Iran has seized was from the Marshall Islands and not the U.S., news services reported, citing a Pentagon spokesman. Earlier Middle East news reports said the ship was from the U.S. The Pentagon spokesman did confirm that Iranian patrol boats fired shots across the vessel's bow and ordered it deeper into Iranian waters.

VESSEL INFORMATION

MAERSK TIGRIS
TEU (Nominal)5466
Built 23 Dec 2014
IMO No.9694581
Call Sign V7GQ7
Class DNV + 1A1
Flag Marshall Islands

27.4.15

Yemen, Aden:foreign warships shell Houthi emplacements

Egyptian navy Alexandria (F 911) FFG-7 frigate passing through the Suez Canal, on its way to the Red Sea, March 26, 2015.
Sun Apr 26, 2015 6:17 pm EDT Reuters: Eyewitnesses in Aden said foreign warships shelled Houthi emplacements around the city's main commercial port and dockyard, the first time they had been targeted.


March 26  Saudi naval blockade of Bab El-Mandab strait: GCC will keep straits open

 (Oct. 25, 2008) As-Sadiq class missile boat 525 Ouqbah (1982) (عُقبه)) of the Royal Saudi Navy

"We would work in conjunction with our GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) partners to ensure that those straits remain open," U.S. Army General Lloyd Austin t.   The Saudi-led Decisive Storm coalition has imposed a naval blockade of Bab El-Mandab strait which connects the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean


[January 10 2014 Egypt's Fast Missile Craft : first transferred]
The United States, concerned over a major Russian arms deal, has quietly transferred an advanced combat naval vessel to Egypt. The U.S. Navy oversaw the transfer of the first of four fast missile craft to Egypt despite a delivery halt of major combat platforms. On Nov. 19, the Egyptian Navy received the Ambassador-3 class FMC, produced by VT Halter Marine, during a ceremony in Pensacola, Fla.


The Obama administration is in the midst of a case-by-case review of aid programs for Egypt to determine whether any should be suspended in light of the actions of the military-backed government. So says the administration, which insists that the review does not equal a hold or a suspension of aid — yet.
Military assistance facing scrutiny includes contracts for four Fast Missile Craft -- patrol boats that are scheduled for delivery starting next month -- as well as Harpoon antiship missiles for delivery in November, according to the July document. Four Fast Missile Craft are due to be delivered from September to April 2014 under a contract with VT Halter Marine Inc. valued at $815.1 million, of which $724.8 million had been paid to the prime contractor. The program’s total value is $1.1 billion, of which $863.4 million had been disbursed.
The Egyptian Navy's fast missile craft (FMC), also called the Ambassador IV-Class patrol craft, is a missile boat developed by VT Halter Marine, a subsidiary of ST Engineering. The FMC can accommodate a crew of up to 40 sailors. It has been developed in the US for the Egyptian Navy under the foreign military sales (FMS) programme.
The Government of Egypt has been planning to replace many of its ageing fast attack craft (FACs), which have been in service since 1966 and since the 1990s. The navy has procured four fast missile boats from the US Navy.
The new FMC vessels will be used to defend armed surface and shipping threats in the coastal waterways of the Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal and Red Sea. The FMC will perform coastal patrolling both independently and jointly for surveillance, surface strike operations, interdiction and task group support missions.

United Kalavryta:to Russia

now anchored Port Kavkaz, Kerch Strait, Crimea, Sea of Azov


Tanker anchored at Sekerpinar Turkey

 cargo delivered to established firms in Israel
Ship-tracking data showed the tanker sailing fully-laden towards the Israeli port of Ashkelon/Ashdod before its satellite transponder was turned off on Feb 22.

It reappeared unladen. Several of the oil tankers that have carried Iraqi Kurdistan crude from Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan have unloaded at Israeli ports, according to ship-tracking data and industry sources.

The KRG has in the past denied selling oil to Israel, which is not recognised by the vast majority of Arab states, including Iraq.

A source in the KRG said that all the oil was being delivered to established international trading companies.



[March 11 Off Canakkale Turkey (2015-03-12 00:36) at anchor

[March 3 ]
United Kalavryta is at Limassol, not under command, 0 knots. 


February 2   United Kalavryta: value of cargo declined by $60 million during wait off Texas




[January 27  Kurdish oil: United Kalavryta is heading to Gibraltar]
Energy Minister Taner Yıldız
 United Kalavryta is heading to Gibraltar, the British territory on the southern tip of Spain.   Iraq and the Kurds agreed in December to start selling oil jointly. The accord will allow them to supply about 550,000 barrels a day more oil from northern Iraq.   The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will receive its full 17 percent of the budget, the head of the Iraqi parliament’s oil committee said.     “Erbil will receive 17 percent of the national budget in reality and not just in theory, and this order will remain even in the future,”   The agreement with Erbil  on the export of 550 thousand barrels through the pipeline region to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, is without deals or secret treaties under this Agreement in regards to the export of oil.

[December 24 40th tanker loading - Turks not getting paid Kurdish oil has been shipped by 39 oil tankers from Ceyhan but Iraqi Kurdish authorities have not yet paid all payments to Turkey’s Halkbank, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has told journalists.    The 39th tanker was loaded and we see one tanker is loaded once every two days. 
ISTANBUL,— Iraqi Kurdistan has shipped a total of nineteen tankers carrying 13.7 million barrels of crude oil since May via a pipeline to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a Turkish energy official told Reuters on Thursday.



“Part of the Kurdish oil money has not been paid yet by the Kurdish authorities. They say they need to take the money from the contracting parties to make the payment to us. We have said to them the money needs to be paid and transferred to Halkbank in accordance with our deal,” he said.   Hawrami said he was “hopeful for the first time” the long-running dispute over independent Kurdish oil sales could be resolved due to a “big change in attitude” under the new Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, who took office in September.   “The KRG will play its full role in helping Iraq to meet its energy export targets” in 2015, Hawrami said.
September 25, 2014



"The flow of Kurdish oil continues without any issues. The 20th tanker will be loaded in the coming days," the official said, adding that the storage tanks in Ceyhan currently held 445,000 barrels of oil.

Turkey's state-run lender Halkbank, where buyers of the Kurdish oil make their payments to, holds $400 million for the sold oil, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters on Wednesday.

"This is a business in which so far $1.3 billion worth of revenues have been made," Yildiz added.


[September 20 mt Ultimate Freedom STS to mt  Northern Star, KRG oil to Singapore?]
mt Northern Star off Singapore



The Ultimate Freedom suezmax tanker, carrying 1 million barrels of Kurdish oil from Ceyhan, this week carried out a ship-to-ship transfer of its cargo to the Northern Star, a Very Large Crude Carrier that can hold 2 million barrels of oil. The vessels were just outside the Singapore Strait in Malaysian waters.

An official at the Malaysian Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) and the ship's captain confirmed a transfer between the two vessels took place.
Two more Kurdish tankers, the United Dynamic IMO: 9412309 and United Emblem IMO: 9419096, have sailed through the Suez Canal in the past week and are listed as heading to Asia 'for orders'.

Vessel's name: Ultimate Freedom Last updated: Sep 15, 2014
Ex-name(s): Huelva Spirit / Iria Tapias
IMO number: 9212759   Call sign: 3ESB9
Flag: Panama   Port of Registry: Panama
Owner: Ultimate Freedom Inc.   Operator: Wan Ship Management Inc
Summer DWT: 149990 MT
Type of vessel: Oil Tanker Built: Mar 28, 2001
Type of hull: Double Hull
Class Society: Bureau Veritas

Northern Star
IMO: 9183350
MMSI: 567493000
Call Sign: HSB4887
Flag: Thailand (TH)
AIS Type: Tanker
Gross Tonnage: 149407
Deadweight: 281050 t
Length × Breadth: 330m × 60.04m
Year Built: 1999
Status: Active

[September 8  United Kalavryta: Marine Management Services doesn't address the question - laden or unladen]
laden or unladen?

Two officials at vessel operator Marine Management Services M.C. of Piraeus, Greece, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on the status of the vessel and its cargo. They also didn’t address the question in several e-mail exchanges.

Four firms that handle lightering services for vessels entering the ports of Houston, Corpus Christi, Galveston and Port Arthur said yesterday they haven’t been hired to offload oil from the stranded ship onto smaller ships and bring it to shore.A fifth firm, AET Inc. (AET), had originally been hired to lighter the oil and later dropped the job after the dispute over the cargo arose

The case is Ministry of Oil of The Republic of Iraq v. 1,032,212 Barrels of Crude Oil, 3:14-249, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Galveston).


[September 3 The vessel`s AIS is back.- Has Gregory Callimanopulos-controlled Marine Management Services STS United Kalavrvta ?]
The United Kalavryta is too large for the Houston Ship Channel, so it is anchored in an area where such vessels transfer their cargo to smaller ones in a process called lightering. The Coast Guard requires ships to file notice before lightering occurs, but the United Kalavryta had filed no such notice as of Thursday afternoon,


United Kalavrvta is managed by Gregory Callimanopulos-controlled Marine Management Services (MMS), which is the same company managing three suezmax tankers that have been involved in lifting Iraqi Kurdish oil from Ceyhan.
A Coast Guard official said that the vessel might have turned off its beacon in the Gulf of Mexico, which it is not supposed to do,  
or it was possible the ship had traveled outside the range of the U.S. Coastguard antennas which would account for it vanishing from the AIS ship-tracking system. 
Where did that $100 million worth of crude go?

[August 19 M.T. United Kalavrvta free to discharge KRG oil at Galveston [but stay tuned]]
Aug 26, 2014 12:01 AM ET   A U.S. judge threw out a court order that would have required federal agents to seize and hold the cargo for the Iraqi Oil Ministry until a court there decided which government owns it.   “Kurdistan’s unauthorized export of oil over land -– and later overseas –- may violate Iraqi law, but it does not violate U.S. maritime law,” Miller said.

Miller threw out a seizure order issued July 28 by a Houston magistrate judge, who questioned U.S. jurisdiction in the matter while agreeing to store the cargo onshore at Iraq’s expense as the debate continued in that nation’s Supreme Court.

M.T. United Kalavrvta intended to discharge its cargo into smaller vessels for delivery at the Texan port of Galveston.

August 19 MT Kamari: from Ceyhan sts United Carrier to Omisalj, $350 million for KRG
MT United Carrier has departed Omisalj




MT Kamari [below]has again loaded crude at Ceyhan, sailing to Malta where it executed a ship-to-ship transfer to a smaller vessel called the United Carrier.

The vessel is managed by Greece-based Marine Management Services, the same company that runs the Suezmax tankers lifting Kurdish oil.

The United Carrier discharged at  Omisalj for Croatia's refineries, which are partly-owned by Hungary's Mol Group, a company that has invested in oilfields in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Croatian government owns the 100,000 barrel per day INA refining company jointly with Mol Group.

Based on international prices above $100 a barrel, total Kurdish crude sales from Ceyhan would total around $350 million, even if some tankers have been slightly discounted,  the fourth major sale of Kurdish crude.

"A tanker with 80,000 cubic metres of crude oil arrived at the Omisalj terminal and it should be unloaded on August 17". 
The Hungarian oil company, MOL Group, is listed as the buyer of the shipment.

[August 15 U.S. supports Kurds against ISIS,  ISIS oil selling but not KRG?]



A senior Turkish official has asked the U.S. to allow importers to buy KRG oil as  the US carries out air strikes against Isis in support of the Kurdistan Regional Government, even as officials in Washington discourage international purchases of Kurdish oil for fear such a trade could further fragment the Iraqi state.
“This is urgent: Isis is now selling its oil, but the Kurds are not allowed to sell their oil,”, referring to oilfields captured by the jihadist group in eastern Syria and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
He claimed Isis was selling cut-price oil to the Syrian government – there are also allegations of widespread oil smuggling from the jihadist-controlled region, notably to Turkey itself – and compared those sales with the legal obstacles faced by KRG exports.
This week, Axeon, a US-based refiner said it would not proceed with a Kurdish buy because it was “controversial” – the latest in a series of rebuffs for tankers circling the globe with shipments of Kurdish oil.



[August 11]




Phoenix An


M / T Phoenix  An has departed Ceyhan, Turkey with crude oil from northern Iraq to international markets.   M / T Phoenix An, Manager: Ancora Investment Trust Inc.,  carries 260 thousand barrels of crude oil, according to Information received from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.    Thus, 6 ships are carrying Iraqi oil to international markets.
Meanwhile, the flow of oil from northern Iraq to Ceyhan started again. 2.6 million barrels of storage capacity at Ceyhan have been full and  the flow of oil cut , butb pumping was resumed on August 3. 

Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources reports that 75 thousand barrels per day are being received, northern Iraq's oil exports continuing despite all adversities. Legal steps taken by the Iraqi government and the United States oppose the sale of oil by KRG.


IMO: 9299496 MMSI: 229357000 Call Sign: 9HA3264 Flag : Malta (MT) AIS Type: Tanker Gross Tonnage: 24,048 DeadWeight: 38512 Length x Breadth: 27.4m 182.78mx Year Built: 2005


Flag: Malta
Port: VALLETTA
Owner: Phoenix An Shipping Limited GT (ITC 69): 24,048
(10125886)   NT (ITC 69): 11,096
Manager: Ancora Investment Trust Inc. DWT: 38,512
(190761)   (LRF / Company identification no: 1359648)
DocHolder: Unknown
(194737)   (LRF / Company identification no: 000000)
Yard: Guangzhou Shipyard International Co. Ltd. (102545) Year of Build: 2005
Type: 101 - Tanker for Oil Sister Vessels
Rule regime: Ship
Vessel shape: Monohull ship

Richard A. Barone founded Ancora in 2001 shortly after The Maxus Investment Group (which he established in 1973) was sold to Fifth Third Bank.

Theodoros Kottaridis, Chief operating Officer, ANCORA INVESTMENT TRUST INC

Richard A. Barone was President and CEO of Maxus Investment Group.  His career as a leader in the investment industry spans a period of more than 30 years.  As a Founder of Maxus Investment Group in 1973, he presides over one of the oldest and largest privately held investment advisory and securities brokerage firms in the Midwest.  In addition to his investment management responsibilities to institutional and high net worth clients, Mr. Barone is also the Manager of the Maxus Income Fund, the Maxus Equity Fund, and the Maxus Aggressive Value Fund.  He is a graduate of Georgetown University with a degree in Economics and has undertaken graduate studies at both Georgetown and Northwestern Universities

[August 11]



Heidmar currently has around 100 tankers in its pools. It is 49% owned by Russia's Rosneft






MT Kamari


MT Kamari, left Ceyhan on August 1 and was heading for Egypt’s Port Said.   It is carrying one million barrels of KRG crude oil.

Crude oil tanker
IMO: 9399492
MMSI: 240829000
Call Sign: SVAL3
Flag: Greece (GR)
AIS Type: Tanker
Gross Tonnage: 83545
DeadWeight: 156853
Length x Breadth: 274.5m x 48.04m
Year Built: 2009
Status: Active
Owner: Lilium Owning Company Limited
Operator: TMS Tankers Ltd
Former name(s):
- Kamari I (Until 2013 May)
- Kamari (Until 2012 Feb)
- Genmar Gulf (Until 2011 Feb)
- Crudegulf (Until 2003 May)
- Landsort (Until 1997 Oct)
Company Name Lilium Owning Co Ltd
Company Name Full Lilium Owning Co Ltd
Activity Owner, Manager
Addressc/o Heidmar Inc, 20, Glover Avenue, Norwalk CT 06850-1219, USA [Connecticut-based Heidmar currently has around 100 tankers in its pools. It is 49% owned byRussia's Rosneft, 49% owned by George Economou-controlled Shipping Pool Investors, and 2% owned by Heidmar management. ]
Town Norwalk CT
Country United States of America
Postal Code 06850-1219

[August 3  United Emblem STS transfer under MARINE MANAGEMENT SERVICES M.C.operator]
MT United Emblem, which is carrying more than 1 million barrels of oil, is one of three tankers loaded with oil from the autonomous Kurdish region, which is trying to sell oil independently. United Emblem – still holed up in the South China Sea off Malaysia – has managed to offload part of its cargo on to another tanker. The ship-to-ship transfer is a ploy also used by other countries, such as Iran in an effort to disguise the origin of crude, with moderate success. A senior executive at Marine Management Services confirmed the ship-to-ship transfer involving the United Emblem took place in a "legitimate operation". The ship is "fixed to a legitimate charterer and performing legitimate operations," said Kostas Georgopoulos, the chartering manager at Marine Management Services. "The ship is still in international waters," he added MARINE MANAGEMENT SERVICES M.C.

MMS took over personnel, premises and business of Trade & Transport Inc which was established back in 1960. T&T Inc and subsequently MMS, have ever since been providing management of tankers, bulkers and combination carriers including handysize bulkers, panamax bulkers, capsize vessels, panamax tankers, aframax tankers, suezmax tankers and VLCCs.


MMS has expertise in managing vessel operations, inspecting second-hand vessels for purchase, fleet maintenance, repairs and new building supervision.


Company Name: TALMAY TRADING DMCC
Address: Dubai - Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC)
POBox: 
Telephone Number: 04-3915043
Fax Number: 04-3611077
E-mail: johan@sbsuae.com
Website: 
Business Activity: Energy
Talmay has offices here



A U.S. court has ordered U.S. Marshals to seize a $100 million cargo of Kurdish oil on a tanker off the coast of Galveston, Texas, if it is brought ashore, adding a new twist to the long-standing dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government over oil sales.

In a complaint filed with a Texas court Monday, Iraq's ministry of oil accused the KRG of illegally producing and exporting the oil onboard the United Kalavrvta and secured a court order to seize the oil should it come to shore. The complaint didn't include a request to seize the tanker itself, which is too large to enter the Houston shipping channel and unload its cargo directly.

In a further blow to the KRG, the company hired to deliver oil from the United Kalavrvta to the U.S. shore, AET Offshore Services Inc., also filed a complaint Monday, seeking to clarify its legal position and relieve it from its obligations to lift the oil until the dispute over its ownership has been resolved.

"AET hasn't engaged in any lightering operations with this cargo and there's no intention to do so pending clarification from the court," a company spokesman said.

The court filings also revealed the biggest clue yet as to the potential identity of the oil's buyer, revealing that British Virgin Islands-registered Talmay Trading Inc. had chartered AET's services. However, it is unclear whether Talmay was indeed the final buyer or acting as a middleman.

[July 28 United Kalavrvta at Galveston from Ceyhan with KRG crude]
A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was anchored near the Port of Galveston, Texas, on July 27, a delivery that has infuriated Baghdad, which has threatened to sue anyone who buys the black gold.  

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker United Kalavrvta sailed from the Turkish port of Ceyhan on June 23.   The United Kalavrvta spent a week hovering off the coast of Malta before striking across the Atlantic toward the U.S. Its final buyer is still unknown. 

The ship carries approximately 1 million barrels of crude, which would fetch more than $100 million at international prices. It must undergo a routine safety inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard on before it can unload its cargo, an official said.    
Washington has pressured companies and governments not to buy crude from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), but it has stopped short of banning U.S. firms from buying it outright.   A second ship - the United Leadership - is still waiting off the coast of Mohammedia, Morocco and a third tanker - the United Emblem - is sailing to Malaysia.

IMO: 9290397
Name: UNITED KALAVRVTA
MMSI: 538005501
Type: CRUDE OIL TANKER
Gross Tonnage: 81076 t
Summer DWT: 159156 t
Build: 2005
Flag: MARSHALL ISLANDS Owner: UNITED KALAVRYTA INC. Operator: Marine Management Services M.C.

[June 27]

2014-06-27 12:18 Tanker VALFOGLIA IMO: 9417309 MMSI: 247235700 Call Sign: ICLM Flag: Italy (IT) Type: Crude oil tanker Gross Tonnage: 60185 DeadWeight: 109060 Length x Breadth: 243m x 42.08m Year Built: 2009 Latitude / Longitude: 35.85376 / 30.82469 Speed/Course: 11.5kn / 271° [June 25]


PANAGIA ARMATA
 Malta Tanker
IMO: 9180126
MMSI: 229637000
Call Sign: 9HA3472
Flag: Malta (MT)
Type: Oil products tanker
Gross Tonnage: 53074
DeadWeight: 98774
Length x Breadth: 248m x 43.34m
Year Built: 1998
Status: Active 

Info Received:(2014-06-25 12:19)
Area: Mediterranean
Latitude / Longitude: 35.31068 / 29.7328
Speed/Course: 13.5kn / 257°
Last Known Port: CEYHAN [TR] (2014-06-24 13:21:00)

Kurdish authorities have continued floating tankers carrying their crude from Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan uninterrupted. Three tankers have sailed since May 22, and  a fourth tanker started loading June 22. While the first tanker is still idling off Morocco to discharge its load, the second cargo was delivered over the weekend to the Israeli port of Ashkelon, managed by Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Co.
The first tanker, the United Leadership, is still lingering off the Moroccan coast after it attempted to deliver oil to the North African country's Mohammedia refinery at the start of this month. The government told the vessel, laden with 1 million barrels of oil, to vacate its waters pending a final decision.
ERBIL, Iraq—The semiautonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq received $106 million for the first million barrels of oil it piped to Turkey and shipped to international markets, a steep discount compared to regional alternative sour grades.   The oil was sold at about a $13 per barrel discount when taking the current level of benchmark dated Brent, whereas Urals has been at a discount of $1.50 to $3/barrel this month.   The grade is a mix of Kurdistan's Tawke and Taq Taq grades and is expected to change over time as the first loadings from storage were mixed with some residue of Iraq's Kirkuk grade.
Buyers of oil from the Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, deposited $93 million of the $97 million owed on the first tanker of crude at Turkiye Halk Bankasi  



[June 22]

 Liberia flagged tanker SCF Altai

“The KRG categorically refutes the claim that it has sold oil to Israel,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Natural Resources said in an e-mail. “The KRG has not sold oil either directly or indirectly to such a destination.”

The spokesman did not comment on questions asking who the KRG had sold the oil to, or how crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan had been delivered to Israel.



[June 20]
mt SCF Altai arrived at Israel's Ashkelon port early onJ
une 20 ship tracking and industry sources said. By the evening, the tanker began unloading the Kurdish oil, a source at the port said.


[June 19]
Two more tankers will load Kurdish oil at Ceyhan by June 22.    Kurdish exports may double to as much as 250,000 barrels a day next month


On May 22, mt United Leadership filled with the disputed oil left the Ceyhan terminal with 1 million barrels for Europe.Then it appeared to be bound for the Americas, as a concerted Iraqi government effort to block its passage led to the tanker turning around on May 30 after getting almost 200 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. The tanker moored about 5 miles off Mohammedia port in Morocco on June 3.    With this much oil now flowing onto the international market from Kurdistan, with Turkey’s help, sooner or later it will find buyers.   Turkey sees Kurdish crude oil exports through its Mediterranean port of Ceyhan as “entirely legitimate” and will continue as long as oil is sold. The next shipment is scheduled for June 22.


[June 18]
After two days of waiting on the coast of Malta, United Emblem transferred its cargo [1.045mn barrels of crude] to the Liberia flagged tanker SCF Altai which headed for the Israeli Port Ashkelon.   
A third tanker carrying KRG oil stored in Ceyhan would transport oil for sale on the international market on June 22. On a daily basis 120,000 barrels of Kurdish oil flow to Ceyhan via the pipeline without interruption. Last December the KRG administration completed construction of the Taq Taq-Khurmala-Fish Khabur pipeline that connects the Taq Taq oil field to the entry point for the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. Since then Kurdish oil exports have continued uninterrupted in a pipeline capable of sending a maximum of 300,000 barrels of oil per day to Turkey.
KRG oil exports from the port of Ceyhan began on May 23. The first tanker, United Leadership, which left the Turkish port in May, is currently positioned off the coast of Morocco. However the second tanker, United Emblem, sailed to Ceyhan yesterday afternoon.

Name: Scf Altai
IMO: 9224439
Flag: Liberia
MMSI: 636011490
Callsign: ELZP3
Gross tonnage: 81,085 tons
Summer DWT: 159,417 tons
Length: 273 m
Beam: 48 m
Draught: 17 m


While the fate of oil in the first two tankers is not yet clear, Irbil-based Kurdish news portal Rudaw reported on June 15 that Kurdish oil, the sale of which was impeded by Baghdad and Washington, has been sold to buyers in Austria and India.






United Leadership


United Emblem



At the time of writing, the cargo vessel United Leadership was moored in the Mediterranean, laden with 1 million barrels of oil taken from storage tanks at the Turkish port of Ceyhan. 

Kurds have now shipped a second crude cargo.   The United Emblem loaded 1.045mn barrels of crude at Ceyhan, Turkey, on June 9. The vessel is currently in international waters near Morocco.

  Baghdad says the semiautonomous northern Iraqi enclave of Kurdistan can't legally export its crude without going through the federal government in Baghdad. The Kurdistan Regional Government, meanwhile, has repeatedly challenged that position and in late December started piping oil from Kurdistan to Turkey for eventual export by tanker. Late last month, the KRG announced the departure of the United Leadership from the Turkish port of Ceyhan, marking it as a milestone for its nascent oil industry.

Baghdad immediately threatened to take legal action against anyone who bought the shipment. Since then, it has remained unclear who bought the cargo, where it was headed and whether any government would allow for it to be unloaded amid Iraq's threats.   Iraq  surpassed Iran in 2012 to become second in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.   The main pipeline is from Kirkuk to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Turkey

The seizure of Iraq’s second-largest city by militants from a breakaway al-Qaeda group is hobbling the effort to fix its main pipeline for crude exports and boost output at one of its biggest oilfields.   Plans to pump more oil at Kirkuk with help from foreign partners such as BP Plc will be put on hold while the violence . The field is Iraq’s fourth-largest, with 8.9 billion barrels in estimated reserves.  It has been producing since the 1920s and currently pumps about 270,000 b/d.    
Growth in Iraq’s output has helped underpin OPEC’s supply to global markets as fighting in Libya has curbed production in the North African country and international sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program have cut that nation’s exports.   Fighting in the northern city of Mosul forced a halt in repairs to the main pipeline from Kirkuk to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Shipments through the pipeline, a frequent target of sabotage, have stopped since March 2.

24.4.15

The laughing contango: tankers for crude storage




Invalid locations?
As much as 90 percent of global oil storage capacity is “captive,” or controlled by major producers such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc or Chevron Corp. That means only a small part of land-based oil storage is available for independent traders to lease to exploit the market contango, which has prevailed since July.


Some of the world’s largest oil traders have moved to secure floating storage in tankers to take advantage of the market contango. Vitol, Koch Industries Inc., Shell and Trafigura Beheer BV, have booked tankers that could be used to store crude at sea for one-year charters, The last time the oil market moved into a significant contango during the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, traders stored 100 million barrels at sea.

[December 12 2014 ]
Seaborne oil trade will rise by 3.5 percent in 2015, against no change in the fleet,  83 very large crude carriers were bound for Chinese ports, at about 8:30 a.m. December 12in London. The ships would transport 166 million barrels, assuming standard cargoes, the largest number in data starting in October 2011. The cost of hiring the vessels surged to the highest in almost five years.   Part of the tanker freight-rate rally may be because of rising shipments from West Africa. Traders booked 33 cargoes of crude on VLCCs from the region this month, 43 percent more than a year earlier.

[October 29  Phantom Ships in the Northwest Passage]
To hide their crimes on the high-seas, hundreds of ships broadcast false identities by using transmitters taken from scrapped vessels on the black market and by typing in made-up ID numbers and hoping they don't arouse suspicion.    Fifteen percent of all ships transmitting fake identities are tankers, typically carrying oil or oil products.    Vessels smuggling oil shipments or other raw materials can lead to significant gaps in intelligence on supply and demand.    large shipping companies seeking to maintain market opaqueness, oil tankers circumventing international sanctions, and large oil producers concealing oil via floating storage in order to affect global oil prices. This group will likely be followed by far more ships seeking to conceal their information in the future.

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

[May 9 2010 Sitting Ducks for pirates: idling tankers]

At least 15 VLCC crude carriers are idling in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Suez. The tankers can store a combined 30 million barrels of oil.

Traders store oil hoping to benefit from a so-called contango structure in futures markets, in which prompt prices are lower than contracts for later delivery. Traders can make money when the difference in prices is greater than the cost to charter the ship.

The contango between the front-month crude contract traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the second-month contract to the highest level since Dec. 15. Dirty products usually include crude oil and may include fuel oil.

The VLCC rate was $43,876 a day as of April 23, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. The rate has more than doubled this year. VLCCs can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.


Iran, OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer, added three supertankers to its fleet of vessels storing crude, matching a similar program in 2008 that helped freight rates to triple, ship tracking data show.

Two years ago, Iran used as many as 15 tankers for storage, constricting vessel supply and helping to more than triple freight rates in less than three months.

Iran is likely storing oil because of weakening demand as refineries across Asia, accounting for almost two-thirds of global demand for supertankers, carry out maintenance. National Iranian Tanker Co., which operates the supertankers, also has a laden suezmax tanker idling off Iran, ship-tracking data show. A suezmax can hold about 1 million barrels of oil.

23.4.15

Iranian flotilla now sailing NE past Oman

AL MUKALLA 
Iranian nine-ship convoy is south of Salalah, Oman, and now headed northeast in the Arabian Sea in the direction of home. The ships, which include seven freighters and two frigates, had sailed southwest along the coast of Yemen heading in the direction of Aden and the entrance to the Red Sea. They appeared to drop anchor in the north Arabian Sea.    Warships from Saudi Arabia and Egypt are positioned to the southwest of the convoy, forming a blockade of the Gulf of Aden and the port city of Aden.


[April 21 ]
 The Iranian ships are moving very slowly, about five knots, off the coast of Yemen.   Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States did not know what the Iranian cargo ships were carrying and declined to say whether the U.S. warships would stop and board Iranian vessels if they attempted to enter Yemeni territorial waters.   "I'm not going to telegraph anything," Warren said.
 “It is hard to believe that Mukalla could be controlled this quickly by Al Qaeda, amidst the complete absence of the security forces,” The relative ease with which the militants captured large parts of the city raised fears of a broader expansion by the Sunni extremists, who have proved adept in the past at exploiting turmoil in Yemen to capture territory.


Koosha 3  Info Received:  2015-03-09 20:50, Area:  Oman Gulf
ARDAVAN Info Received:  2015-04-20 11:15  Area:  Persian Gulf

Eight Iranian ships are heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis.   What's unusual about the new deployment is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it.    Instead, they appear to be trying to "communicate it" to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.  Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.   The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen.   The U.S. Navy generally conducts consensual boardings of ships.  

Alvand-class frigate


Iran's Bushehr logistic vessel and Alborz frigater, left Iran’s southern port city of Bandar Abbas on  April 8  bound for waters off Yemen.
Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said tthe ships would be part of an antipiracy campaign aimed at "safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region."
Alborz  (F-72)
Class and type: Alvand-class frigate
Displacement: 1,100 tons (1,540 tons full load)
Length: 94.5 m (310 ft)
Beam: 11.07 m (36 ft)
Draught: 3.25 m (10.5 ft)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 Paxman Ventura cruising diesels, 3,800 bhp, 17 knots (31 km/h)
2 Rolls Royce Olympus TM2 boost gas turbines, 46,000 shp, 39 knots (72 km/h)
Speed: 39 knots (72 km/h) max
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 125-146
Armament: 4 x C-802 anti-ship missiles
1 × 4.5 inch (114 mm) Mark 8 gun
1 x twin 35 mm AAA, 2 x single 20 mm AAA
2 × 81 mm mortars
2 × 0.50cal machine guns
1 x Limbo ASW mortar
2 x triple 12.75 in torpedo tubes

[February 8 2014 Iran's frigate Sabalan,Kharg bound for U.S. waters ]




Sabalan (in Persian سبلان) is a British-made Vosper Mark V-class (or Alvand-class) frigate in the Iranian Navy.
Commissioned in June 1972 as part of a four-ship order, 

Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad announced on January 8. The admiral, who is also the commander of the Iranian Army's 4th Naval Zone said, "Iran's military fleet is approaching the United States' maritime borders, and this move has a message."
With task of securing shipping routes as well as training new personnel, Iran's Sabalan frigate and Kharg logistic helicopter carrier left for the Atlantic Ocean from the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on a three-month voyage. "The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," he said. The Associated Press says Iranian officials acknowledged last month that the fleet consisted of a destroyer and a logistic helicopter carrier.   

March 04, 2013 - CHINA - The Iranian Navy’s 24th fleet of warships has docked in the Chinese port of Zhanjiang, which is located in southwest China, the deputy commander of the Navy announced on March 4, 2013.
“The (Navy’s) 24th fleet of warships, comprised of the Kharg helicopter carrier and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sabalan frigate docked in  Zhanjiang Port  after sailing 13,000 kilometers in 40 days,”    

On the morning of April 18, 1988, the oil platforms were knocked out. The U.S. forces then turned to look for Iranian frigates in the Strait of Hormuz,... Another group of A-6 Intruders was sent to the reported location of the Sabalan in the strait, where, the frigate fired at the A-6s at 6.17 p.m. (Gulf time). At 6.18 p.m., an A-6 dropped a Mk-82 500 pound laser-guided bomb, which left the Sabalan paralyzed and on fire. At The Pentagon, Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., and U.S. Central Command head Gen. George B. Crist monitored the situation. After discussion, the men decided to spare the moribund Sabalan, perhaps to prevent further escalation.
Iranian forces towed the damaged ship to the port of Bandar-Abbas, and it was eventually repaired and returned to service.   The Moudge class frigate is a modified Iranian-built version of the Alvand, with five either in service or building.

The U.S. Navy's 5th fleet is based in Bahrain — across the gulf from Iran.

[November 11, 2012]


Admiral Naghdi, DE 91






IS Kharg
Shahid, Kharg enter Mediterranean after crossing the Suez Canal on November 10

 [October 31]Two Iranian warships docked in Port Sudan have left the Sudanese port after a visit coinciding with Khartoum's denial that Iran is involved in making weapons in Sudan.   .Small Sudanese craft escorted the Kharg out of the harbour, after the departure of another Iranian warship, the corvette Admiral Naghdi. The Naghdi's crew stood in orange life jackets as the gunboat departed.

[October 29]An Iranian naval task force docked in Sudan on October 29 includes IS  Shahid Naqdi, a corvette-class vessel, and IS Kharg, a supply vessel that can carry three helicopters.   Sudan is often thought a waypoint for arms smuggled to Hamas.

[February 22,2011]After two days of violent street protests in one week, Iran's opposition Green Movement said Feb 21 it was pondering its next move and considering a continuation of street protests, according to opposition websites.
A new date hasn't been announced for antigovernment protests although supporters posted on the opposition's Facebook page that this Tuesday or Wednesday are possible.
Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi have been under house arrest for over a week with little communication with the outside world.

IS Alvand, DE 71, passed through the Suez canal at Ismailia, Egypt, Tuesday, Feb.22, 2011, together with IS Kharg, replenishment ship 431.
The Iranian ships are headed for Latkia in Syria on a training mission.
The ships paid about $300,000 in fees for the passage, according to a Maritime agent.
earlier