'Iran helps Syria ship oil to China'

Oil in Iranian tanker - destined for China - could bring Assad government $80 million despite Western sanctions.

By REUTERS
March 30, 2012 12:32
2 minute read.
Assad tours natural gas plant near Homs

Assad tours natural gas plant near Homs_370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

LONDON - Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million.

Iran, itself a target of Western sanctions, is among Syria's closest allies and has promised to do all it can to support Assad, recently praising his handling of the year-long uprising against Assad in which thousands have been killed.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


China has also shielded Assad from foreign intervention, vetoing two Western-backed resolutions at the United Nations over the bloodshed, and is not bound by Western sanctions against Syria, its oil sector and state oil firm Sytrol.

"The Syrians planned to sell the oil directly to the Chinese but they could not find a vessel," said an industry source who added that he had been asked to help Sytrol execute the deal but did not take part.

The source named the Chinese buyer as Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, a state-run company hit by US sanctions in January.

A Zhuhai Zhenrong spokeswoman said: "I've never heard about this." She declined further comment.

The US State Department said in January that Zhuhai Zhenrong was the largest supplier of refined petroleum products to Iran, on which the West has imposed sanctions because it suspects Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


China's willingness to start importing Syrian oil offers a rare break in the country's growing isolation.

Syria, a relatively modest oil exporter, has been unable to sell its crude into Europe, its traditional destination until September last year when European Union and US sanctions halted exports.



Click for full JPost coverage



The crude oil cargo, worth around $84 million assuming a discounted price of about $100 a barrel, could provide Assad with much-needed funds after another round of sanctions designed to further isolate the country's ailing economy were imposed by the European Union last week.

Syria's Sytrol, which has been on the EU and US sanctions list since last year, referred calls to the country's oil ministry. No one answered repeated calls by Reuters at the oil ministry. Iranian authorities were not available to comment.

The source added Sytrol had enlisted contacts in Venezuela to help find a vessel that could pick up the cargo. The problem was ultimately resolved by the Iranian authorities, who sent the tanker M.T. Tour to take on the cargo.

The Maltese-flagged tanker is owned by shipping firm ISIM Tour Limited, which has been identified by the US Department of Treasury as a front company set up by Iran to evade sanctions.

The M.T. Tour reached the Syrian port of Tartus at the weekend, where it loaded the 120,000 tonne cargo of light crude oil, according to the industry source and shiptracking data.

Satellite tracking showed the vessel was last spotted near Port Said in Egypt, where is was due to arrive on Wednesday. Its final destination was not available but the industry source said the vessel was likely to head to China or Singapore.

"I was asked to provide an option to ship to southern China or Singapore," the source said.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

National security advisor John Bolton at press conference at King David
September 26, 2018
Bolton threatens Iranian generals: We will come after you

By MICHAEL WILNER