In an escalation of the US–China trade war, US news agencies name a tanker believed to have loaded Iranian crude oil destined for China
Two US news agencies, CNBC and Bloomberg, have named 2001-built, 300,000-dwt VLCC Pacific Bravo as the first tanker that may be breaking the re-imposed US sanctions on Iran and the sale of Iranian crude oil.
CNBC reports that two tanker tracking companies, KPLER and TankerTracker, believe the vessel entered the Middle East Gulf in mid-May and switched off the AIS before loading crude oil at Kharg Island in Iran, and is on the way to discharge the cargo in China directly or via ship-to-ship transfer.
CNBC displays a satellite image which it is claimed shows Pacific Bravo loading Iranian crude oil at Kharg Island.
Pacific Bravo is registered to Kunlun Holdings, which is believed to be a subsidiary of Bank of Kunlun, a bank within the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp.
According to VesselsValue, Kunlun Holdings owns 11 vessels, including six VLCCs.
The US has specifically warned China against purchasing Iranian crude oil, and China has stated it will buy crude oil from whom it pleases.
Both countries are now in a tit-for-tat tariff trade war, and the loading of Iranian crude oil by a Chinese-owned tanker is seen as a provocative step given the high level of visibility and analysis available on tanker movements.
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