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Danish shipper asks Vitol if tanker used for Iran oil

Wednesday, 3 Oct 2012 | 7:29 AM ET

By Luke Pachymuthu and Randy Fabi

SINGAPORE, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller Maersk says it will talk to Vitol to determine whether one of its tankers was used by the trading house to ship Iranian fuel oil.

The Maersk Producer, a tanker chartered by Vitol from Maersk, received a fuel oil cargo of Iranian origin on Sept. 8, according to a document seen by Reuters. The cargo was transferred aboard the Danish tanker from Vitol's floating storage off Malaysia, the document shows, and shipped to storage in Singapore.

Vitol admitted last week its Bahrain office had bought the Iranian fuel oil but said it had now ordered a stop to all trade with Iran, which is under European and U.S. oil and financial sanctions. Based in Switzerland and trading the oil from Bahrain, Vitol did not contravene sanctions.

Maersk said it was surprised to hear that its ship had been hired to transport Iranian oil.

"Not at any point did we know that the vessel would be used to transport oil under embargo and we will bring this up for discussion with Vitol at the highest level," said Per Juul, managing director of the agent for Maersk, in an e-mail response to questions.

"If it is confirmed that it was Iranian oil the consequences will have to be discussed with Vitol...we have contacted our insurance company about this issue."

A spokesman for Vitol said the company would "cooperate fully" in any talks with Maersk.

The Maersk Producer discharged the cargo into a storage terminal in Singapore leased by Vitol from Tuas Power between Sept. 10 and Sept. 12, Reuters shipping data shows.

Tuas Power, which is a fully owned subsidiary of the New York listed Huaneng Power International , said that it had been reassured by Vitol that the cargo discharged by the Maersk Producer was not of Iranian origin.

"Our checks showed no indication that the cargo of fuel oil in question was of Iranian origin," Tuas Power's spokeswoman Talia Tan said, responding to an email seeking comments.

Checks were based based on a review of "declaration documents", a source at the company told Reuters. Declaration documents for oil held in floating storage commonly refer to the storage vessel as the origin, particularly when fuel of more than one origin is blended in storage.

The Iranian fuel oil has still to be sold to its final destination.

(editing Richard Mably, Manash Goswami)

((luke.pachymuthu@thomsonreuters.com))

Keywords: MAERSK VITOL/