Iran seizes another oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz as Gulf crisis erupts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

Iran seizes another oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz as Gulf crisis erupts

IRAN is believed to have seized another oil tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran: ‘Startlingly dangerous moment’ in Middle East says expert

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The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation is reporting another ship has been seized in the gulf. Correspondent Amochai Stein said on Twitter: “Iran has seized another oil vessel in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard arrests a vessel and 11 crew on ‘diesel smuggling charges’.”

It comes after Iran said accusations it had a role in the attack on Saudi oil installations were “unacceptable” and “baseless”, after a senior US official said the Islamic Republic was behind it.

“These allegations are condemned as unacceptable and entirely baseless,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in remarks carried by state TV.

On Sunday, a senior US official told reporters that evidence from the attack, which hit the world’s biggest oil-processing facility on Saturday, indicated Iran was behind it, instead of the Yemeni Houthi group that had claimed responsibility.

Iran news

Iran is believed to have seized another oil tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz (Image: REUTERS/GETTY)

Donald Trump waded into the row by issuing a fierce warning to Iran that America was “locked and loaded” in a chilling esponse to the oil field attacks.

The US President said on Twitter: “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of the attack, and under what terms we would proceed.”

He then said the US had ‘PLENTY OF OIL!’ despite the attacks on the fields.

READ MORE: Putin swoops on Iran chaos in crunch talks hours after Saudi strike

Last night the US issued satellite images an intelligence backing the claim that Iran was behind attacks on major Saudi oil facilities.

According to the New York Times, ABC and Reuters US officials pointed 19 points of impact from bombs or missiles and evidence indicated the attacks had come from a west-north-west direction – not Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, which lies to the south-west of the Saudi oil facilities.

US officials suggested launch sites in the northern Gulf, Iran or Iraq were a more likely source of the missiles. And a close-up image of damaged tanks at the Abqaiq processing plant seemed to show impact points on the western side.

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Donald Trump said the US is “locked and loaded” (Image: GETTY)

Iran’s semi-official Students News agency ISNA reported Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized the the vessel for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel to the United Arab Emirates.

A reporter for ISNA said: “It was detained near Iran’s Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf.

“The crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province.”

Donald Trump would take ‘aggressive’ stance on Iran says expert

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Mr Trump said on Monday the United States would help its allies.

Taking to Twitter he said: “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!”

The latest reported ship seizure by Iran follows a series of incidents involving shipping around the Gulf after US sanctions on Iranian oil exports took full effect in May.

Experts: Suez Canal $3.6 Billion in Due Certificates to Remain in Banks

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT) 

 

Experts: Suez Canal $3.6 Billion in Due Certificates to Remain in Banks

Tuesday, 20 August, 2019 – 09:45
A cargo ship passes through the New Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, January 17, 2016. (Reuters)
Cairo – Asharq Al-Awsat
Analysts and bankers said that most of the Suez Canal certificates of deposits due on September 4 will not be withdrawn from banks after their due date. They will instead be reinvested in new certificates because the certificate holders are wary of taking risks.

In 2014, the Suez Canal Authority made more than EGP60 billion (USD3.61 billion) from issuing investment certificates for Egyptians for five years with a revenue of 12 percent end of 2016 to around 15.5 percent.

The revenue was invested in building the new Suez Canal and a number of tunnels.

Back then, Egypt permitted the purchase of investment certificates for Egyptians only by individuals, companies and authorities, such as funds.

Mona Mostafa, director of trading at Arabeya Online, told Reuters that 80 percent of due certificates in September would be linked to new certificates because most of the subscribers of Suez Canal certificates are clients of banks and not adventurous investors.

Egypt announced in August 2014 plans to set up the new Suez Canal in addition to the current canal under a project worth several billions of American dollars. The project aims to expand trade along the fastest route of navigation between Europe and Asia.

Egyptian officials hope the new canal would push annual revenues to USD13.5 billion by 2023 from more than USD5 billion.

The Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869, and its length is around 160 km. It is the shortest maritime route between Asia and Europe. The canal is Egypt’s largest income source of hard currency alongside tourism, gas and oil exports and workers’ transfers from abroad.

Further, Suez Canal revenues reached USD5.7 billion in 2018, rising from USD5.3 billion in 2017.

Britain says Iran has seized two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Britain says Iran has seized two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz

UK confirms two vessels taken, one of them British, in ‘unacceptable’ act; Iranian media says second ship released after being detained; US accuses Tehran of ‘escalatory violence’

This undated photo issued Friday July 19, 2019, by Stena Bulk, shows the British oil tanker Stena Impero at unknown location (Stena Bulk via AP)

This undated photo issued Friday July 19, 2019, by Stena Bulk, shows the British oil tanker Stena Impero at unknown location (Stena Bulk via AP)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, officials in London said, in a move that further raised tensions and infuriated American and British leaders.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said it had seized British oil tanker Stena Impero, claiming it “was confiscated by the Revolutionary Guards at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization when passing through the Strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules.”

US officials told CNN there were indications that Iran had seized a second vessel, the Liberian tanker MV Mesdar. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported that Masdar had been detained by Iranian forces but was released and left Iranian waters.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that two ships had been seized, condemning the incidents as “unacceptable” and saying he was “extremely concerned” by the incidents.

UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt addresses the final Conservative Party leadership election hustings in London on July 17, 2019. (Tolga Akmen/AFP)

“I’m extremely concerned by the seizure of two naval vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz,” he said in a statement. “These seizures are unacceptable.”

The government was to hold an emergency ministerial meeting later on Friday “to review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels,” Hunt said.

Britain’s ambassador in Tehran was in contact with Iranian authorities “to resolve the situation,” he added.

Hunt later warned of “serious consequences” if the ships were not released.

“We will respond in a way is considered but robust, and we are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences,” he was quoted saying by Sky News.

“We’re not looking at military options, we are a looking at diplomatic way to resolve the situation,” he added.

Britain confirmed that one of the boats seized was British registered. The other was Liberian-flagged, but reported to be owned by British company Norbulk Shipping.

Fars reported the Liberian-flagged tanker was briefly detained in the Strait of Hormuz and given a notice to comply with environmental regulations before being allowed to continue on its way.

The UK is “urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a British government spokesperson said.

Asked about the latest incident as he departed the White House, President Donald Trump told reporters “We will talk to the UK. We’ll be working with the UK.”

He added: “This only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran. Trouble. Nothing but trouble. It goes to show you I was right about Iran.”

US President Donald Trump talks to the press before departing from the South Lawn of the White House on July 19, 2019, in Washington, DC (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The US accused Iran of “escalatory violence,” with National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis saying: “The US will continue to work with our allies and partners to defend our security and interests against Iran’s malign behavior.”

The Swedish owners of the Stena Impero said the vessel had come under “attack” in the Strait of Hormuz.

Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management said in a statement that it “can confirm that… our managed vessel Stena Impero was attacked by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter while transiting the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters.”

“We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now tracking as heading north towards Iran,” it said.

UK Chamber of Shipping CEO Bob Sanguinetti said the seizure of a British oil tanker by Iranian forces represents an escalation in tensions in the Persian Gulf that makes it clear more protection for merchant vessels is urgently needed.

He said the action was “in violation of international regulations which protect ships and their crews as they go about their legitimate business in international waters.”

He called on the British government to do “whatever is necessary” to ensure the safe and swift return of the ship’s crew.

The announcement by the Guards came hours after the British territory of Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ruled that a seized Iranian tanker suspected of breaching sanctions by shipping oil to Syria can be detained for 30 more days.

The Grace 1 supertanker, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police on July 4 as it transited through waters claimed by Gibraltar, which is located on Spain’s southern tip.

The Grace 1 super tanker in the British territory of Gibraltar, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said Thursday he had had a “constructive and positive” meeting with Iranian officials in London aimed at defusing tensions around the detention of the tanker in the British territory’s waters.

Gibraltar and US officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.

Iran has reacted with fury to what it termed “piracy” and warned it would not let the interception go unanswered.

Last week, a British warship in the Gulf warned off armed Iranian boats that tried to stop a UK supertanker. London has since announced the deployment of two more warships to the Gulf region for the coming months.

In this file photo taken on April 30, 2019, Iranian soldiers take part in the ‘National Persian Gulf Day’ in the Strait of Hormuz. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

The Gibraltar court ruling comes as tensions in the Gulf region mounted Friday after Washington said an Iranian drone was destroyed after threatening a US naval vessel at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz.

It was believed to be the first US military engagement with Iran following a series of increasingly serious incidents. Iran has denied losing any drones.

On Thursday the Guards said they’d seized a foreign tanker accused of smuggling oil. The vessel appeared to be a United Arab Emirates-based tanker that had disappeared off trackers in Iranian territorial waters.

Iran’s state television did not identify the seized vessel or nationalities of the crew, but said it was intercepted on Sunday. It said the oil tanker had 12 foreign crew members on board and was involved in smuggling some 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.

READ MORE:

U.K. warns Iran of “serious consequences” if tanker isn’t released

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

U.K. warns Iran of “serious consequences” if tanker isn’t released

Britain is warning Iran of what it describes as “serious consequences” if Iran does not release a British-flagged tanker it seized in the Persian Gulf. Iran claims the tanker collided with an Iranian fishing boat in the Strait of Hormuz.

“We will respond in a way that is considered but robust and we are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Friday. “We’re not looking at military options, we’re looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation, but we are very clear that it must be resolved.”

Germany and France on Saturday also called on Iran to release the tanker. President Trump on Friday commented on the increasing tension in the strategic oil shipping route. “Trouble, nothing but trouble,” he said from the White House.

CBS News was traveling in Afghanistan with General Frank McKenzie, the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, when the two British tankers were seized. McKenzie told CBS News exactly what happened: the first ship was flying a British flag as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

“She was fired upon, subsequently boarded, taken under Iranian custody and is now deep in Iranian territorial waters,” McKenzie explained.

Iran Persian Gulf Tensions
A British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized by the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is shown in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on Saturday, July 20, 2019.   TASNIM NEWS AGENCY/VIA AP

The second British tanker was flying a Liberian flag. “The Iranians boarded her. We believed they searched for British persons, found none and then allowed her to continue her voyage,” he added.

Three hours later an American-flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Chicago, went through the strait with what McKenzie called “iron overhead” meaning F-18 fighter jets flying air cover. The Iranians left it alone. The U.S. now has warships stationed at either end of the strait.

“Do those destroyers have orders to intervene if they see another ship hijacking?” CBS News asked.

“They would only do so in the case of a U.S. flag vessel coming under attack,” McKenzie said.

Mr. Trump has made clear he does not want war with Iran. McKenzie told CBS News the U.S. military is determined not to overreact.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News’ National Security Correspondent.

Brazil: JP Morgan ship found with $ 1bn in cocaine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)
(Shouldn’t this ship be confiscated by the Brazilian government and now be the property of the government?)(oped: oldpoet56) 

JP Morgan ship found with $ 1bn in cocaine

US authorities seized a ship from MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Co) this week which was found last week with a cargo worth $ 1 billion in cocaine (or 20 tonnes). The ship belongs to JP Morgan Asset Management, according to information from The Wall Street Journal

US authorities seized an MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Co) ship this week that found a cargo worth $ 1 billion in cocaine (or 20 tonnes) last week. The ship belongs to JP Morgan Asset Management, according to The Wall Street Journal.

With a capacity of 10,000 containers, the ship is worth approximately $ 90 million and was built in 2018. It is now docked on the Delaware River, near the port of Philadelphia, and according to newspaper sources, it must remain there for a while relevant.

Eight crew members, natives of Serbia and Samoa, were arrested. Others have been fined and are being prosecuted.

Industry executives, shipping lawyers and shipping agents told the WSJ that the case is unprecedented, given the scale and age of the ship.

What is JPMorgan involvement?

So far, the bank that owns the ship has not appeared on the case. Some experts have already discussed the reasons why the company does not seem to care about the crime. Among them, Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine.

First, the columnist’s wife, a defense lawyer, argues, justice must assume that the JP served as a “mule”: the boat belongs to the company, but not to drugs.

Another argument is that JP only financed the purchase of the vessel from MSC through a lease. In this way, none of this technically belongs to the bank.

In addition, considering that the contract is in the name of JP Morgan Asset Management, the asset manager of the bank, the true owners of the equity are the customers, not the company. Managers, by definition, only manage people’s assets.

Finally, the columnist assumes that JPMorgan probably has an agreement that puts the MSC in charge of what happens to that ship – since the operations (and their profit) are not connected to the activity of the bank or the manager. 

Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

Friday, 21 June, 2019 – 10:30
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Washington- Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani warned against Iran’s continued practices in the region during his meetings with US officials at the White House on Thursday.

“Iran is spreading terrorism through its Houthi agents and is using Yemen as a platform to threaten neighboring countries and international shipping corridors, and continues to smuggle weapons and support the Houthi militias,” the Yemeni minister said during a meeting with US National Security Council officials.

Eryani warned of the terrorist practices of the Iranian-backed coup militias, their promotion of sectarian terrorist ideology and the recruitment of children in schools.

He stressed that the Yemeni legitimacy “cannot accept any role of Iran in Yemen,” adding that the Iranian regime has “given our country and our people only death, destruction, and sectarian feelings.”

The Iranian minister briefed US officials on “the legitimate government’s efforts to normalize public life in liberated areas, combat terrorism and extremism, rebuild devastated villages and restore the social fabric,” which he said the militias were destroying.

He also pointed to the Saudi-sponsored rehabilitation program for children and its role in reintegrating formerly recruited children in the society.

The Yemeni minister called on the international community and the United States to exert all forms of pressure on Iran to stop its destabilizing activities in Yemen and the rest of the region.

Shopping in Australia, while in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC NEWS NETWORK AND THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Shopping in Australia, while in China

  • 24 October 2016
  • From the section Business
Media caption Phil Mercer reports from Sydney on the booming business of “freelance exporting”

In Sydney, a multi-million dollar export industry starts with a simple trip to the shops.

Laden with plastic bags that are almost too heavy to carry, we meet Rika Wenjing, a 24-year-old accountancy graduate from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

She labours with tins of infant food, supplements and skin lotions from a discount chemist to sell to customers back home in China.

Rika has worked part-time for the past two years as a daigou, a freelance retail consultant.

Rika Wenjing in a vineyardImage copyright RIKA WENJING
Image caption  Wenjing started working as a daigou while she was a student

She is glued to her phone and tablet, using the messaging app WeChat to build a network of 300 clients who aren’t afraid to pay premium prices for trustworthy Australian goods.

“In the beginning I just had my friends and my aunty to buy baby formula or unique brands from Australia, like Ugg boots. Then I wanted to build a platform to show more products to them,” she told the BBC. “I don’t want just to earn money, I want to provide products to my friends.”

A display of ugg bootsImage copyright  IMAGES
Image caption  boots are popular with Chinese shoppers

In Australia, it’s estimated there are 40,000 daigou, which means “on behalf of” in Mandarin.

The online shopping agents are almost exclusively from mainland China, and are young migrants or international students looking for flexible ways to help cover their rent and university fees.

The epicentre of the trade is in Sydney, a city with a growing Chinese community and frequent direct flights to China, which makes doing business quicker and smoother.

Earlier this year, Beijing tightened regulations on cross-border online shopping, but there is still money to be made, especially in baby milk formula, known as “white gold”.
Shoppers in China cannot always find the brands of baby milk formula they want locally

In 2008, at least half a dozen children died and as many as 300,000 fell ill in China after consuming milk products contaminated by melamine, a chemical used in plastics and adhesives. Since then, imported milk has become highly prized by sections of China’s affluent and health-conscious middle classes.

“Everyone cannot buy the good quality or the reliable formula in China, so they want to buy from Australia. Maybe it is more expensive, they don’t care [about] the price but they do care about the quality,” Rika explains.

At the height of a boom last year in demand in China for milk formula, a buying surge from daigou attracted criticism in sections of the Australian media for leaving domestic shoppers empty-handed. As demand peaked last year some shops limited the amount of formula customers could buy

Daigou came to prominence in Europe by shipping luxury goods such as Gucci handbags to China. In Australia, the trade revolves around everyday items including food, beauty products, wine and clothes.

“There are smaller daigou, so mum doing a home business and ship the product to China. There are also those which open up their own shop and try to do a bigger-scale business,” says Benjamin Sun, the co-founder of Think China, a digital marketing company in Sydney.

“Some of the daigou… establish their own logistics, own e-commerce website and try to formally distribute the products. It is all about trust, that is what daigou is doing – building trust between their clients. They are small but they are a lot of people. If you add them together, they are huge.”

Benjamin SunImage copyright BENJAMIN SUN
Image caption Benjamin Sun says the work of a daigou is all about building trust with clients

Daigou typically charge premiums of about 50% above the retail price in Australia. But even allowing for transport fees, buyers in China invariably pay much less for the same product in a local shop – assuming it is available.

The industry with its home-spun roots does have its challenges. Customers must be convinced the goods they receive are genuine, and not fake, and that the supplier is reliable.

Consultants often live stream their visits to supermarkets and chemists to prove the authenticity of the goods they send. It is an industry founded on trust.

In the Sydney suburb of Yagoona, Bob Sun, originally from the city of Dalian but now studying accountancy at Macquarie University, is renting a warehouse with three Chinese friends for their expanding business.

They pack their products – again mostly milk powder, vitamins and skin creams – with Australian magazines to help prove their provenance.

“The income from daigou is reasonable compared to other working opportunities like working in a restaurant and that sort of thing. The profit is really enough to cover your rent. It is easy to do that,” the 24-year-old student told the BBC.

“The biggest reason for me to do daigou is to not work in some company or to work in a restaurant. It is flexible.”

These freelance exporters have created thousands of trading routes both small and big into China, a market that can be almost impenetrable for some Australian companies, and others from New Zealand. Increasingly firms are collaborating with specialist consultants to harness their contacts and expertise.

“We think daigou are good for both the local economy… and they are very good for our business,” says Peter Nathan, chief executive of A2 Milk, a New Zealand baby formula manufacturer that also operates in Australia.

“We clearly believe they are a positive force and it’s fair to say that it is something we are accessing.”