Iran says it’s ready to release U.K.-flagged oil tanker

In this July 21, 2019, photo, a speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized by the Guard on July 19 in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
(Hasan Shirvani / Mizan News Agency via Associated Press)

Iran has completed all legal procedures necessary to release a U.K.-registered oil tanker it seized more than two months ago, a government spokesman said, as Tehran faces pressure to take conciliatory steps after being blamed for attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

Spokesman Ali Rabiei, speaking to reporters in the Iranian capital, didn’t specify when the ship would be allowed to leave the Persian Gulf country.

The tanker Stena Impero is still in Iran, despite some reports it has been released, the head of the company that owns it said on Monday at 11:30 a.m. in Dubai. The vessel is “highly likely” to head to a port in the United Arab Emirates once it has been freed, said Erik Hanell, president and chief executive officer of Sweden-based Stena Bulk AB.


The ship’s remaining crew would be able to disembark once it reaches its first port of call, MTI Network, a crisis media management company working for Stena Bulk, said Sunday. Iran freed seven of the ship’s 23 crew members earlier this month.

Iran seized the Stena Impero on July 19, shortly after the U.K. detained a vessel in Gibraltar that was allegedly carrying Iranian crude to Syria. Gibraltar released that ship, which was then renamed the Adrian Darya 1, in August. The ship has since been accused of sailing to Syria to deliver its cargo in breach of European Union sanctions. Iran says it sold the oil to a private company while at sea.