Posted on July 25, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
The UAE-based charterer of the Panama-flagged Oil Tanker, MT Riah that was seized while transiting through the Strait of Hormuz last week, has denied Iran’s allegations of oil smuggling.
Iran claims that the vessel had been seized because it was found to be smuggling 1 million litters of fuel out of Iran, with the intent to transfer it to foreign vessels.
However, according to Rishi Kumar, head of KRB Petrochemicals who acts as the vessel’s charterer, the Iranian claims are completely false.
Mr. Kumar suggests that at the time of the seizure, the vessel was completely empty of any cargo. According to his statement, the vessel was supposed to sail into Oman where it would load up on fuel before heading for Somaliland.
The Riah was originally seized on July the 14th. According to Mr. Kumar, four small boats approached the Riah while the tanker was transiting through the Strait, near Iran’s Qeshm Island.
The naval forces proceeded to board the ship and threaten the captain while ordering the crew to lie on the deck. They proceeded to disable the ship’s engine and went on to tow it towards Iran.
Iran originally suggested that the vessel was only being towards Iran because it was experiencing technical difficulties and had to undergo repairs. However, they soon changed their story and suggested that the vessel was involved in oil smuggling.
Of the 12 crew members on board the vessel, nine have been released but at least three seafarers, including the ship’s Master, remain in Iranian custody.
The MT Riah is owned by the Iraqi based Riah Shipping & Trading Inc.
Image Courtesy of Marine Traffic