Friday's final blur on the final destination of Iran's oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, nearly two weeks after he was released by the Gibraltar authorities, was challenged by Washington, while Turkey and Lebanon denied one after the other that he was heading for to their shores.
Transporting 2.1 million barrels of crude oil worth more than $ 140 million, Adrian Darya 1 was seized on July 4 off Gibraltar, suspected of carrying oil to Syria, in violation of European sanctions .
On August 18, the ship was finally allowed to sail, despite intervention by the United States, a sworn enemy of Iran who wanted to keep it at a standstill. The British authorities in Gibraltar noted that Tehran had pledged not to send those barrels to Syria.
Since then, the tanker has been sailing in the Mediterranean, without it being possible to determine its final destination or the fate of its cargo.
If Iran said Monday it sold the oil aboard Adrian Darya 1, it did not disclose the identity of the buyer.
Friday at about 1400 GMT, according to the MarineTraffic tracking website, Adrian Darya was just west of Cyprus, after completing a loop in the previous day.
– No anchorage in Lebanon –
On Friday, authorities in Beirut denied earlier remarks by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that the tanker was heading for Lebanon.
"There is no request for Adrian Darya 1 to enter Lebanon," Energy Minister Nada Boustani told his Twitter account, noting that the ministry is buying crude oil from anyone because " Lebanon does not have a refinery for this purpose.
A little later, the Turkish minister said that he spoke of "Lebanese territorial waters", not necessarily of a Lebanese port.
He too had denied shortly before Adrian Darya was heading for his country.
"This tanker is actually not en route to Iskenderun (port of southern Turkey named Alexandrette in French, ed), this oil is on its way to Lebanon," he had launched in Oslo.
For Alexandrette had been appointed a few hours earlier as a destination by MarineTraffic. In recent days no destination was mentioned. Before there had been Mersin, in Turkey, and Kalamata, in the south of the Greek Peloponnese peninsula.
Athens had assured that the tanker was not heading for Greece.
Renamed Adrian Darya leaving Gibraltar, the tanker sails under the Iranian flag. Before he had a Panamanian flag and was called Grace 1.
Tehran had assured it could not be "transparent" about the destination of its oil, accusing the United States of trying to "intimidate" potential buyers.
– "Zigzag without goal" –
Because in recent weeks, this case has crystallized tensions between the United States and Iran.
These tensions have increased since Washington unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from an international agreement concluded in 2015 to oversee Iran's nuclear power. The United States had also reinstated draconian sanctions against Tehran.
According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the sale of oil carried by Adrian Darya 1 would help finance the Iranian forces.
On August 19, Pompeo said he hoped that the tanker would be boarded again so as not to fuel the "campaign of terror" that Washington accuses Tehran of leading.
In the past, Washington has also accused the ship of trying to transport its cargo to Syria, where the Tehran-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad is also subject to US economic sanctions.
The arrest also caused a serious crisis between London and Tehran, which seized a British tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July.
TankerTrackers, the oil transport monitoring site warned Friday on social networks that one should not rely too much on the destinations posted by Adrian Darya 1, leaning rather for a transfer of the cargo on smaller tankers.
"You have to consider this as an update of the data rather than something substantial," according to the site.
"We think a transfer will still take place in a few days. Turkey will not import this oil, "the source said.
Meanwhile, the ship "zigzags aimlessly around the Mediterranean".
LNT with Afp