Flurry of diplomatic exchanges as Greece and Iran aim to quickly resolve tanker issue

Greece The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy transfers crude oil from the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Lana (former Pegas), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, Greece, May 26, 2022. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Greece and Iran have escalated their diplomatic contacts to quickly conclude a tanker crisis that sees the Mediterranean country holding onto an Iranian tanker and its cargo and the Persian Gulf country doing likewise to two Greek vessels.

Lana, formerly Pegas, was seized by Greek authorities, thus instigating Iran to seize the Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior.

The fate of the cargo is directly linked to the two Greek-flagged tankers that are being held hostage in Iran.

The two Greek ships, which were seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps while in international waters.

Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior remain anchored at Bandar Abbas port with a total crew of 49 sailors, of which 10 are Greek, one Cypriot and 38 Filipino.

About 68,000 tons of oil out of a total of 104,000 have been transferred from Lana to the Greek interests tanker Ice Energy and they were going to unload it in Newport, Texas.

But last week, a panel of the Chalkida Court of Appeals lifted the seizure of the oil cargo by the Iranian-flagged Lana.

The Court of Appeals accepted the objections of the attorney of the company that owns Lana and ordered the return of the oil cargo from the US-leased tanker Ice Energy, located off Piraeus.

Although this has raised hopes that the two Greek tankers may be released soon, it has not allayed concerns about the crew's well-being and bringing the drama to a normalised conclusion.

According to Lloyd's List, satellite images show an Iranian-flagged tanker, the 1998 suezmax Rima (IMO: 9150377), anchored five days ago next to the Prudent Warrior.

There is concern that the Iranian government may decide to transfer the oil cargo from the Greek tanker to the Iranian one. This particular Iranian tanker had participated in such activity in the past.

Last November, Iran conducted such an operation.

"At this stage, it seems that everything has to do with the Iranian govern52ment maintaining as much pressure as possible against the Greek one," said a source.

Iranian diplomats, other than those present at the Iranian embassy in Athens, ​​have been in the Greek capital in recent days, although the information has not been officially confirmed.

In the meantime, it remains unclear what moves will be made to return the cargo to Lana, albeit the issue is expected to be clarified in the coming days and is expected to be resolved quickly.

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