Gibraltar today announced it had detained the supertanker Grace 1 on suspicion it was carrying crude oil to Syria in what may be the first such interception under EU sanctions.
Reuters reports that Refinitiv Eikon mapping indicates the Grace 1 loaded Iranian crude oil on April 17, and if this were confirmed, the attempted delivery to Syria could also be a violation of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
European Union sanctions against the government of Syria took effect in May 2011, after President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on demonstrators that developed into a protracted civil war.
Iran, a patron of Assad, is also under US sanctions to bar all international sales of Iranian oil. The sanctions were imposed after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
The Gibraltar government said it had reasonable grounds to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas refinery in Syria.
“That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria,” Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said. “With my consent, our port and law enforcement agencies sought the assistance of the Royal Marines in carrying out this operation.”