London, Monday, 30 May 2022
Iran has renewed threats against Greek shipping in response to pleas from France and the European Union to free the Greek tankers it detained on Friday. This happened after Iran announced that the crew members of the two tankers would not be detained, and Iran's Foreign Minister stated that the event would not harm relations with Greece. The uptick in language has reawakened fears about transportation, particularly the global oil industry, which is already under strain as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The French foreign ministry demanded that Iran free the crew members and the two tankers immediately over the weekend. France stated the Iranian activities were a "violation of international law," and that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps must immediately cease their actions and allow the ships to leave. Iran's actions were described as "unacceptable" by EU spokesperson Peter Stano, who added that the EU was "pursuing the matter."
"Our ties [with Greece] must not be harmed by extremely shortsighted miscalculations, including highway robbery on the command of a third party," Iran's Foreign Minister said on Twitter, alluding to the US actions seizing the crude oil cargo from the tanker anchored in Greek waters. He emphasised the two countries' long history of collaboration.
Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization denied that the crews of the two ships, which included at least nine Greek citizens, had been imprisoned, saying that they had not been "detained" and were instead being "protected" by Iran. The hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Public Relations Department, on the other hand, reported that its navy force had seized both vessels for unspecified breaches. They went on to warn that "other Greek tankers were in Gulf waters, which could be seized by the elite force if Greece continued its games," and that "other Greek tankers were in Gulf waters, which could be seized by the elite force if Greece maintained its games."
Polembros Shipping, the owners of the Prudent Warrior, one of the two tankers arrested, issued a brief statement on May 30 indicating it had spoken with the vessel's master and crew earlier today. They claimed to have communicated with the corporation, informing them that they are in good health and are being treated nicely.
In response to the rising tensions and threats, Greece's shipping ministry issued a warning to Greek ships to avoid Iranian waters. While the ministry stopped short of instructing Greek ships not to go into the Persian Gulf, numerous Greek shipping companies said they were seeking more information from the ministry.
According to Richard Matthews, head of research at E.A. Gibson Shipbrokers, "any Greek owner will think twice before sailing into the Middle East." He pointed out that Greece is the world's largest tanker operator, and that there is a risk of more crude oil supplies being disrupted.
The world's oil markets and analysts are waiting to see what Iran's next action will be, as well as any possible western retaliation.
(Report by: The Decision Maker Maritime news editors)