A Marshall Islands-flagged tanker named Suez Rajan, carrying Iranian crude oil, finally began unloading off the coast of Texas after being stranded for two and a half months. The vessel had been anchored near Galveston, Texas, unable to unload due to concerns that any ship accepting the cargo would face customer backlash. However, a Liberia-flagged tanker called MR Euphrates was observed alongside Suez Rajan, preparing for a ship-to-ship transfer to remove the crude oil. This approach was necessary as Suez Rajan, a Suezmax vessel, couldn’t directly enter the port due to its size and weight.
Despite the developments, official statements from key U.S. authorities like the Department of Justice, Coast Guard, and Department of Homeland Security are still awaited.
Iran has issued a warning of retaliation against any company participating in the unloading of Iranian oil from the seized tanker. Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers, including Republican Senator Joni Ernst from Iowa, have been pushing the Biden administration to address the cargo transfer delay. The estimated value of the oil in the 800,000-barrel tanker is around $56 million.
Notably, U.S. seizures of Iranian oil contribute funds to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund. This fund supports victims of attacks, but due to a lack of sufficient assets, it has been determined that there won’t be enough resources for a round of payments to the nearly 16,000 affected Americans in the following year.