Argus Media Limited

09/16/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/16/2021 08:34

Hezbollah-brokered Iranian gasoil arrives in Lebanon

The first convoy of tanker trucks carrying Hezbollah-brokered Iranian gasoil crossed from Syria into Lebanon this morning, and is headed to the city of Baalbek, state-owned news agency NNA said earlier today.

Hezbollah-owned al-Manar TV said it was a convoy of around 20 trucks, but it is unclear what the total volume is. The Faxon, which loaded more than 33,000t of gasoil from Iran on 19 August, could have been the tanker that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said earlier this week docked in Syria on 13 September. It passed through the Suez Canal on 10 September, Vortexa data show.

Iran's tanker fleet regularly disables transponders when outside Hormuz, and so Vortexa still shows the vessel offshore Egypt.

There is no indication of the gasoil's specification. Iranian refineries produce mostly high-sulphur gasoil grades ranging between 0.2-0.7pc sulphur (2,000-7,000 ppm), and Lebanon's Zahrani power plant, in the country's south, typically requires gasoil with a maximum sulphur content of 0.2pc.

Hezbollah has since last month been talking up the arrival of fuel from Iran, in a move aimed at easing Lebanon's fuel supply crisis. Earlier this week Nasrallah thanked Syria for receiving the first shipment and easing its transfer to Lebanon. Discharging Iranian product in Lebanon would have put the country at risk of breaching US sanctions.

'We were told that the arrival of the vessel here [in Lebanon] would harm the country and we don't want to harm the country so we went for another option,' Nasrallah said. He added that a second tanker carrying Iranian fuel would arrive in Banias, Syria, in a 'few days', with a third and fourth to follow carrying gasoline and fuel oil, respectively.

Other efforts have been made recently to ease Lebanon's fuel shortage, including an agreement with Iraq in July to broker 1mn t/yr of heavy Iraqi fuel oil in exchange for goods and services it needs. Lebanon last month awarded its first tender under this scheme to Dubai's state-owned Enoc, to swap 84,000t (542,000 bl) of Iraqi fuel oil with 30,000t of a particular fuel oil grade and 33,000t (246,000 bl) of gasoil. Market sources said Lebanon has awarded its second tender under this scheme, to Enoc again to swap the same amount and products, but this could not be confirmed.

By Sarah Raffoul