The gas and oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has stated that they’ve ceased sending British-flagged vessels through the key lane for oil shipping, the Strait of Hormuz, amid the UK-Iranian tensions, exacerbated by recent incidents. They, however, will apparently continue using the route.
“There are Shell-managed vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and that will probably continue to be the case. Currently, though, there are no UK-flagged vessels”, Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said.
The CEO of the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate although did not exclude using British-flagged tankers for deliveries through the strait if they are guarded by the Royal Navy.
Shell’s rival, British conglomerate BP, has already stopped the transit of its tankers through the Strait of Hormuz and revealed that they’ve no plans to resume them anytime soon. It is going to use chartered tankers to ship crude out of the oil-rich region instead.
The decision followed an incident on 10 July when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps allegedly attempted to block a BP tanker traversing the Strait of Hormuz while being shadowed by the frigate, HMS Montrose. It confronted the Iranian vessel but no casualties were reported.
UK-Iran tensions around the Strait of Hormuz, which accounts for up to one-third of the world’s daily sea-bound supplies from oil-rich nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran, peaked this month after an incident on the other side of the continent, off the coast of Gibraltar.
On 4 July, Royal Marine commandos boarded and seized the Grace 1, a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker loaded with Iranian oil there because London alleged that the ship was headed for an oil processing terminal in Syria, in violation of European Union sanctions against the war-torn country. Iran has denied the claims.
On 20 July, the Stena Impero, a British-flagged tanker was boarded and seized by Iranian commandos, with Tehran alleging that the vessel had engaged in dangerous manoeuvers and rammed an Iranian fishing vessel sending out distress calls. The UK has denied these claims and demanded the immediate release of the ship.
Following the seizure, the UK announced plans to put together a European-led coalition separate from a similar US initiative to patrol the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in a bid to “protect” commercial vessels. Germany, France, Denmark, and Italy have reportedly backed London’s idea.