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June 12, 2023

The US Department of Justice may soon start unloading oil from an Iranian tanker named Suez Rajan, which was seized in April. The vessel has recently arrived off the coast of Galveston, Texas, according to satellite images and transponder location data. The seizure of the tanker in April led to Iran’s retaliation by taking a US vessel called the Advantage Sweet, which was carrying Kuwaiti oil for Chevron. This move is part of the US and its allies’ efforts to prevent Iran from using its energy technology for nuclear weapons development. The arrival of the Suez Rajan off the coast suggests that the US government has likely reached an agreement with the tanker’s operators and owners regarding criminal penalties. The tanker is estimated to be carrying 800,000 barrels of crude, valued at $56 million. Both the US Department of Justice and the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control declined to comment on the matter.

Following the destruction of Ukraine’s Kakhovka Dam, floodwaters have started to recede, revealing extensive environmental damage and posing significant health risks to the downstream population. The collapse of the dam in southern Ukraine has resulted in ecological devastation, estimated to cost more than 55 billion hryvnia ($1.5 billion). The Kherson region’s national parks are at risk of disappearing due to the plummeting water levels in the Kakhovka reservoir. This reservoir, which supplied water to millions, has lost 62% of its water, with ongoing leaks.

The dam’s destruction and subsequent flooding have been attributed to Russia, coinciding with Ukraine’s military operation to reclaim occupied territories. The UK and Japan have pledged financial aid to offset the dam’s destruction. Ukraine is awaiting assistance from the UN Environment Programme and has received specialized technical support from the UN’s nuclear watchdog. The flooding has submerged human cemeteries and animal burial sites, posing potential health risks. Contamination of water sources with dead fish, animals, and toxic substances is a concern. Ukraine’s agriculture ministry has warned of long-term impacts, including the potential desertification of the south and the loss of fish stocks. The Black Sea is now inundated with debris, turning it into a “garbage dump” and animal cemetery. The international response to the humanitarian disaster has faced challenges due to the ongoing conflict and slow coordination. The number of displaced people in the affected areas is increasing, with severe damage reported in villages and towns.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced the repulsion of an attack by Ukrainian speedboats on one of its Black Sea Naval vessels. The incident occurred southeast of Sevastopol in Crimea, with the Vishnya-class intelligence ship “Priazovye” as the target. According to Russia, the attacking boats, armed with machine guns and grenade launchers, were destroyed, resulting in no casualties or damage to the ship. The veracity of the report could not be independently verified, and Ukraine has not commented on the incident. The Priazovye was conducting monitoring activities along the routes of the Turkish Stream and Blue Stream gas pipelines in the southeastern Black Sea. Notably, a US Air Force unmanned aerial vehicle, RQ-4B “Global Hawk,” was performing reconnaissance in the central part of the Black Sea during the attack.

A motorboat caught fire off the Egyptian Red Sea coast, leaving three British tourists missing while 12 individuals were successfully rescued. The incident occurred in the vicinity of Marsa Alam, and the survivors, along with the 12 Egyptian crew and guides, were brought to safety in the nearby diving resort of Marsa Shagra. The fire was caused by an electrical short circuit on the boat named Hurricane, which had been on a trip since June 6. Social media images captured the boat engulfed in flames with thick smoke rising into the sky. The British Foreign Office is in contact with local authorities and providing support to the nationals involved in the incident.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern over Russia’s potential withdrawal from the Black Sea grain initiative, a deal that allows the safe wartime export of grain and fertilizers from Ukrainian ports. Russia has threatened to leave the agreement if obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer shipments are not resolved.

The UN and Turkey brokered the deal in July last year. Guterres emphasized the importance of maintaining the initiative while working to facilitate Russian exports. To secure Russia’s agreement, a three-year memorandum of understanding was reached, with the UN assisting Russia with its food and fertilizer exports. Russia has demanded the resumption of ammonia exports to Ukraine’s Pivdennyi port and the reconnection of Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT payment system. The UN has supported Russian exports, ensuring steady ship flow, lower freight rates, and insurance costs.

Shipping magnate John Fredriksen has pledged to purchase shares worth approximately NOK 250 million ($23.2 million) in the initial public offering (IPO) of DOF shares. Geveran Trading, indirectly controlled by trusts established by Fredriksen for his family, will acquire the shares at a price of NOK 28 per share. The IPO, announced by DOF on June 1, aims to bring the Norwegian offshore vessel owner back to the Oslo Stock Exchange. The expected trading date is June 22, 2023, under the ticker symbol “DOFG.” The offering consists of approximately 4.3 million existing shares and around 15 million new shares, with DOF aiming to raise total gross proceeds of approximately NOK 512.5 million. Fredriksen’s stock acquisition alone accounts for almost half of the targeted amount.

A potential strike looms in Norway’s offshore oil and gas sector as 913 workers on drilling rigs and installations have set a June 29 deadline for a wage agreement. The Industri Energi labor union stated that the strike would affect 12 rigs, including Seadrill’s West Elara, Odfjell’s Nordkapp, Transocean’s Spitsbergen, and contractors at Equinor’s Gullfaks field. While short-term oil and gas output may not be impacted, the strike could delay expansion projects and the start-up of new fields. Talks between the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and labor unions broke down, leading to the involvement of a state-appointed mediator to prevent the strike. The exact number of workers participating in the strike from other unions is yet to be announced.

Cargo operations at the Port of Seattle came to a halt as coordinated work actions led by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) disrupted operations, according to the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The ILWU, however, stated that the West Coast ports remain open and accused the PMA of leveraging one-sided information. The unions are seeking a pay increase reflecting the industry’s record profits from the pandemic cargo boom and additional compensation for hours worked since the contract expired. West Coast ports are vital to U.S. supply chains and the economy, with over 22,000 dockworkers operating without a contract since July. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged President Joe Biden to intervene and appoint an independent mediator to address the ongoing labor dispute.

Danish bunker supplier Monjasa has acquired two tankers to strengthen its operations in West Africa and the Arabian Gulf. The 2009-built Monjasa Thunder, purchased from Donsotank Rederi for $18.5 million, is en route to Lomé, Togo, following refurbishment. With a capacity of 19,991 deadweight tons (dwt), it surpasses Monjasa’s existing West Africa tankers. Additionally, Monjasa acquired the 2018-built Monjasa Shipper, formerly Pearl Mercury, from Singapore’s Consort Bunkers for an undisclosed sum. The 7,991 dwt vessel will support Monjasa’s operations in Dubai, including biofuel activities. The addition of these tankers expands Monjasa’s fleet, which currently consists of 30 tankers and barges deployed globally. The Middle East and Africa bunkers account for 27% of Monjasa’s total volume of 6.4 million tonnes.

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

Disclaimer: ‘Currents’ is an online shipping news service by Earl’s Rock Trading (Pvt) Ltd that reports on the latest developments and trends in the maritime industry. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in our news stories or for any opinions expressed by the people quoted in them. Our aim is to provide our readers with up-to-date news and insights from reliable sources. However, we do not endorse or take any responsibility for any actions taken by our readers based on the information provided in our news articles. We also want to make it clear that we do not own any of the images used in our news stories, unless stated otherwise. All images belong to their respective owners, and we use them solely for illustrative purposes. If you are the owner of any image used in our news stories and want it to be removed or credited, please contact us, and we will take the necessary action.