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Iran Seizes Second Oil Tanker in the Strait of Hormuz
By Seaandcoast | 05/05/2023
On May 3, a Panama-flagged oil tanker named Niovi was seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) while crossing the Strait of Hormuz. This act comes as the second incident in which Iranian forces have seized oil tankers. Just six days prior to the seizure of Niovi, the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Advantage Sweet was also seized while transiting international waters in the Gulf of Oman.
The Niovi oil tanker is a very large crude carrier (VLCC), weighing 309,300 deadweight tonnage (dwt) and was built in 2005. It is owned by Liberia-based Grand Financing Co on behalf of Greek Altomare and managed by Smart Tankers. As per the US Navy, while the Niovi was heading towards the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates from Dubai, a dozen IRGCN fast-attack craft swarmed the vessel in the middle of the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian navy subsequently forced the oil tanker to reverse course and head towards Iranian territorial waters off the coast of Bandar 'Abbas, Iran.
The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, is considered one of the most strategically important waterways in the world due to its location and the amount of oil that is shipped through it. According to reports, 21% of the world's oil supply passes through this route, which explains the significance of this latest incident.
The reason behind the seizure remains unclear, but some media reports suggest that it could be a retaliatory measure against the US-seized cargo of Iranian oil on board the Suez Rajan under a court order. This act by Iran has been condemned by the US Navy, who called it a violation of international law and a disruption to regional security and stability. Over the past two years, Iran has reportedly interfered with the transit of 15 internationally flagged merchant vessels, raising concerns about the security of the waterway.