After over two months, Tehran releases Stena Impero

An archive photo of the British-flagged Stena Impero

Tehran has released a British oil tanker it seized more than two months ago, the Iranian government’s official spokesman Ali Rubaie said on Monday, according to Reuters.

“The legal procedures have been completed and accordingly, the conditions for the release of the oil tanker have been completed and it can sail now,” Rubaie said in a press conference.

The semi-official Fars News Agency on Sunday quoted the director general of ports and maritime navigation in the province of Hormuzkan, Murad Afifi Bor, as saying that “after the verdict to end the detention of the British oil tanker Stina Impero, this ship will begin, after 65 days, the movement of the port”.

Afifi Bor said that the process of leaving the oil tanker from the Iranian territorial waters has begun, but the legal case against the oil tanker is still open, and the results of the case will soon be announced.

Eric Hanel, chief executive of the Swedish-owned British carrier Stena Impero, a British-flagged carrier, which has been detained by Tehran since July 19, said on Sunday to Swedish television: “We received information on Sunday morning that they would release the Stena Impero apparently within hours, so we understand that the political decision was made to release it”.

While Tehran claim that the seizure came after the oil tanker was involved in a collision with a fishing vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, the incident was considered as a retaliation to the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker ‘Grace 1’ by UK Royal Marines near Gibraltar two weeks earlier over suspected breach of EU sanctions earlier in July, further escalating diplomatic tensions in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, a major shipping line for world’s oil supply.

It’s noteworthy that the region’s authorities released the Iranian oil tanker in August.

On September 4, Tehran released seven of its 23 crew members.