Iran’s NITC Vessels Continue Discharging Oil in China

A critical part of the US “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran is getting the regime’s oil exports to zero.  On May 2, 2019, the Trump administration terminated exemptions waivers to all eight jurisdictions that allowed ongoing imports of Iranian oil for a period of six months. Despite the expiration of these waivers, however, China remains Iran’s biggest crude oil buyer and continues to import Iranian oil to this day.

On June 20, 2019, the sanctioned National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) ship SALINA made the first post-waiver delivery of Iranian crude oil at the Jinxi Refining and Chemical Complex. In an effort to crack down on Chinese imports, on July 22, 2019, the U.S. attempted to restrict China’s purchases of Iranian oil and sanctioned the Chinese energy company Zhuhai Zhenrong Co Ltd, “for allegedly violating restrictions on Iran’s oil sector.” 

In spite of this, NITC crude oil tankers look like they will continue to visit ports in China. NITC Crude Oil Tankers SONIA I arrived at Jinzhou Port, China on July 22, 2019 and SEVIN on July 24, 2019. The vessels arrived fully loaded with their “draft” (indicating how full or empty a vessel is) at 15.7 and 15.9 from Iran, respectively. SONIA I departed Jinshou on July 25, 2019 with a draft at 9.5 – indicating it had discharged its cargo there. Similarly, SEVIN departed Jinzhou on July 27, 2019 with a draft at 9.5. These now look to be additional deliveries of crude oil at China’s Jinxi Refining and Chemical Complex following the SALINA on June 20, 2019, and the HUMANITY which arrived at the Jinzhou Port on July 19, 2019. However, HUMANITY’s satellite transponder, which tracks the vessel’s position, has since been turned off.