The Stena Impero at Bander Abass port
The Stena Impero at Bander Abass portReuters

Stena Impero, the British-flagged tanker detained by Iran on July 19, will be released soon, an Iranian maritime official said on Sunday, according to Reuters, which cited the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency.

The Stena Impero was captured by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on July 19 after passing through the strait at the mouth of the Gulf.

While the incident took place after the UK and Gibraltar seized the Iran-flagged tanker Grace 1 in early July on the grounds that it was attempting to transport oil to Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied the move was an act of revenge for the capture of the Iranian tanker.

Gibraltar released the Grace 1, which has since been renamed the Adrian Darya 1, on August 18 after receiving written assurances from Iran that it would not head to countries under EU sanctions.

“After the issuing of the ruling for the end of detention of the English tanker Stena Impero this vessel will soon, and after the passing of 65 days, begin its movement from the port of Bandar Abbas toward international waters,” Allahmorad Afifipour, the head of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran in Hormozgan Province, said on Sunday.

The process for the tanker to exit Iranian waters has been started but the legal case against the ship is still open and the results of the case will be announced, Afifipour said.

He did not provide any additional information on when the tanker may be released.