News 10 august — 13:07

Secret route of oil (Tanker moored in Baku and then went to Iran)

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BY RAUF KARIMLI

The story with sending a shipment of Turkmen oil to Iran, which Azeri Daily has already reported, continues to acquire new details and reactions from some interested parties.

Recall that according to a previously published report, on August 3, a vessel flying the Russian flag 'VF Tanker-20' arrived at the Iranian port of Neka, delivering about six thousand tonness of Turkmen oil produced by Dragon Oil.

The oil was unloaded into a terminal owned by NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company). It turned out to be the first consignment of oil that Dragon Oil, 100% of which owned by the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) (according to other sources, 50% belongs to a company registered offshore - the British Virgin Islands), decided to ship to Iran jointly with its subsidiary Trading structure in Singapore - ENOC Trading.

The decision of Dragon Oil and ENOC on the resumption of oil supplies to Iran caused surprise among market participants. Recall that despite the fact that in 2016 part of the sanctions against Iran was lifted, many restrictions continue to operate to this day. A number of companies prefer to wait for relevant detailed recommendations from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury (OFAC) before starting any business with Iran.

In a situation where Dragon Oil performs all calculations of Turkmen oil in US dollars, is working on a long term basis with the American contractors (for example, the largest US oilfield services company Schlumberger) and employs US citizens in its decision-making positions, the decision on resumption of supplies to Iran causes questions.

As noted in the publication of Azeri Daily, it is possible that this delivery to Iran was not originally planned by Dragon Oil.

So, the vessel 'VF Tanker 20' arrived in the port of Baku and was in the roadstead here from July 25 to August 1. However, the vessel was denied unloading in connection with the discovery on it of undocumented (possibly - contraband) cargo. Afterwards, ENOC redirected the tanker to the Iranian port of Neka, where it is possible to unload the goods without presenting documents for the goods.

Shortly after the publication of the material our editorial office was contacted by a certain 'Gurami,' who said that the information does not correspond to reality, but this 'Gurami' refused to introduce himself fully.

However, the editorial staff managed to find out that the Georgian number belongs to a certain Jaba Tarimanashvili. And he is a representative of Malianno Holding Inc (head office in Geneva). By the way, representatives of the expert community told Azeri Daily that this firm is not prominent, and therefore represents nothing special.

It should be noted that Dragon Oil itself is an oil and gas exploration, development and production company. Its principal asset is the Cheleken Contract Area, in the eastern section of the Caspian Sea, offshore Turkmenistan. It owns exploration assets in Tunisia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Algeria. Its corporate headquarters are in Dubai, UAE.

First of all, the editorial board tried to contact Dragon Oil's office in Ashgabat. We called the number +971 4 305 3500, indicated on the official website of the company. The operator connected us to the person in charge of public relations. Just hearing that the call was from Azerbaijan, our interlocutor disconnected. The correspondent tried to talk to him. But again with the same negative result.

Then we decided to contact the head office in Dubai at +971 4 305 3600. The operator connected us to the person in charge of PR (a certain Mr Gorov or Goroff). He started the conversation very friendly, however, when we explained to him where we were calling from and on which issue, he said that he had no right to give such information, and that only CEO Ali Rashid Al Jarvan can make statements to the press. He gave us his assistant's phone +971 4 305 36 11.

The assistant answered, listened to the request and redirected us again, this time to the compliance department. There no one answered and we were disconnected. Attempts to call the CEO's assistant or operator did not give any results. They did not answer to our calls any more. Perhaps they had something to hide?

Note that we also called the company's office in London. Its number +44 20 7647 7800 was listed on Dragon Oil's official website as well. However, it turned out that the London office was that of ENOC. They said that all issues related to Dragon Oil should be addressed by calling their office in Dubai, which we did. To no avail.

Incidentally, in the accompanying documents for this shipment of oil it was noted that the supply goes to Italy. But then why did the tanker go to Iran after the doubts of representatives of the controlling bodies in Baku?

One of the sources of Azeri Daily noted that Italy is a kind of a hub and therefore is noted as the final recipient of the cargo. However, along the way, oil can be resold several times and this is a common practice.

At the same time, on condition of anonymity, sources in Tehran reported that this delivery was really intended for Iran to repay the existing debt of Ashgabat to Tehran under a contract connected with the installation of fiber-optic networks in Turkmenistan.

The most interesting is that Dragon Oil has been in the system of 'black knights' since 2011, that is, companies cooperation with which allows Iran to bypass international sanctions. Legally nothing is proved, but such accusations in 2013 were also raised against ENOC Trading.

Perhaps now it is about an attempt to check the route for further use. Kind of an exploratory trip. And it is already certain that the Azerbaijani competent authorities were on the alert, suspecting an undocumented cargo on the ship.

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