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Egypt Halts Tanker with Syrian Oil for Payment Fees

Source: Ahram Online 4/3/2012, Location: Africa

An Iranian tanker carrying Syrian crude oil is being held in Egyptian waters because it has not paid the Suez Canal Authority the fees required for passage, the Egyptian authority said on Monday. "Its agent has not paid the Suez Canal fees, therefore it hasn't passed. The issue is not linked to politics," Tarek Hassanein, head of information at the Suez Canal Authority, said.

Reuters reported on Friday that the M.T.Tour, owned by ISIM Tour Ltd and identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a sanctions-evading company set up by Iran, was shipping a cargo of Syrian crude to a state-run Chinese company.

The Suez Canal Authority confirmed the vessel was carrying Syrian crude oil bound for Singapore and added it would be allowed to pass with its 81,000 tonne cargo once the fees had been paid. The M.T.Tour, which was sent by Iranian authorities after Syria was unable to find another vessel to take the cargo, loaded light crude at the Syrian port of Tartus last weekend. The cargo is worth some $84 million to the sanctions-hit Syrian government.

Western and Arab countries have imposed sanctions on Syria in an effort to force Assad to halt the bloodshed, in which the United Nations estimates some 9,000 civilians have been killed. The Maltese Foreign Ministry said on Sunday it was delisting a Maltese-flagged, Iranian-owned tanker that was carrying Syrian crude oil in breach of international sanctions.

The ministry said the Maltese transport authorities took immediate action last week on learning that the Iranian ship flying the Maltese merchant shipping flag was carrying Syrian oil in breach of sanctions. Any other Maltese-flagged ships found to be breaking the sanctions would also be delisted, it added.

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