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 discharged crude oil to the terminal, operated by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
On August 7th, VF Tanker-20 loaded a new cargo of crude oil in Aladja port, Turkmenistan, and moved towards direction of 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.
It would appear, that this maneuver is linked to the fact, that Dragon Oil and ENOC, most likely, didn’t obtain necessary permissions from Turkmenistan Government authorities (State Customs Services and others), allowing Turkmen crude oil supply 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, due to the serious worsening of 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.
Moreover, such movements of the ship may be explained, as the attempts of Dragon Oil and ENOC to hide the true destination of crude oil delivery – Iran, and, therefore, to avoid being included into the list of companies, violating US sanctions against Iran.
We recall, that NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company), 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 (belong 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