The U.S. State Department last week sanctioned Vietnam Gas and Chemicals Transportation Corporation, a vessel manager, as well as Vo Ngoc Phung, the firm’s managing director, for engaging in a significant petroleum transaction after Nov. 5, 2018, with Iran.
The U.S. banned such deals when reimposing sanctions as part of its exit from a nuclear agreement. “Petroleum and petrochemicals are major sources of revenue for the Iranian regime, revenue it employs to oppress the Iranian people and to advance its malign foreign agenda,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A spokeswoman for the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry asked the U.S. to lift the sanctions on the company and its managing director, saying transactions between the two countries are for civilian goods that do not violate international sanctions, according to a local media report.
Vietnam Gas owns or operates 27 vessels, including oil tankers, gas carriers, and bulk carriers, according to maritime data. Vietnam Gas has publicly traded on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange since September 2011.
Though none of the vessels appeared to visit the vicinity of Iran in the past six months, according to their AIS transponders, one visited a Chinese port with heightened North Korea diversion risk and turned off its transponders during certain legs of the journey, maritime records show.
The Golden Atlantic, a Panama-flagged bulk carrier, shut off its AIS transponder from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in the Yellow Sea, near North Korean waters, before making a port call in Dandong, China, a few days later. As the Golden Atlantic was leaving Dandong, it again shut off its AIS transponder, before turning it back on off the coast of Busan, South Korea, on Oct. 7.
Dandong is a city situated on the China-North Korea border cited by the U.S. and others for heightened North Korea sanctions-related risk.
Several Vietnam Gas operated tankers have also traveled between Venezuela and other jurisdictions this year, maritime records show. The U.S. imposed sanctions in January 2019 on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, and has since designated companies, as well as vessels and their owners and operators, for engaging in Venezuelan oil trade. Some tanker operators continue to facilitate the trade despite U.S. pressure, Kharon reported in November.
The Opec Fortune traveled from Turkey to Venezuela and on to Brazil between July and August 2020. The Loyal traveled from the Netherlands to Venezuela, and on to Shanghai, China between May and July of this year. During the same time period, the Opec Victory traveled from Germany and made a port call in the Jose Terminal in Venezuela before traveling onward to China.
The Opec Galaxy traveled from Italy to Venezuela’s Jose Terminal and on to Japan, and has since made additional trips between Venezuela and other jurisdictions. The Opec Fortune, Opec Victory, and Opec Galaxy are owned by Vietnam-based Sellan Gas Company, while the Loyal is owned by Vietnam-based Ovtrans Petrol Transport Services Company Limited. Sellan Gas owns two other tankers that have engaged in transponder shut-offs in the Yellow Sea and South China Sea.
Source » kharon