Iran ships stranded in Brazil to depart this weekend: officials

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Two Iranian ships stranded off the coast of Brazil for weeks will set sail this weekend, officials said Saturday, after a court ordered state oil giant Petrobras to fuel up the vessels.

The bulk carriers have been stuck at Paranagua port in the southern state of Parana since early last month after Petrobras refused to provide fuel for fear of breaching US sanctions on Iran.

The port administrator said the dispute “ends this weekend.”

It had dragged Brazil into a global standoff which has seen rising tensions and fears of a military clash involving Tehran and Washington, which imposed a raft of punitive measures on Iran and companies with ties to the Islamic republic.

US President Donald Trump has placed crippling sanctions on Iran since he pulled the United States out last year from a landmark multinational pact which lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for a freeze on its nuclear program.

The Bavand, which is loaded with corn, will receive 1,300 tons (tonnes) of fuel, the Parana port administration said in a statement. The Termeh will get 600 tons.

Petrobras, whose stock is listed in the US and in Sao Paulo, confirmed it was refueling the ships.

A spokesperson for Eleva Quimica, the Brazilian company which contracted the vessels, said refueling started in the early hours of Saturday and would finish later in the day.

They would depart this weekend.

The Supreme Court order came after Iran’s top envoy to Brazil told Bloomberg that Tehran could suspend imports from Brazil if the issue was not resolved.

The ships had reportedly brought urea, which is used to make fertilizer, to Brazil and were to transport corn back to Iran.

Petrobras had said the Iranian vessels and the Iranian company that owns those ships — reportedly Sapid Shipping — were sanctioned by the United States.

“If Petrobras were to supply these vessels, it would be subject to the risk of being included in the same list, which could cause serious damages to the company,” it said in an earlier statement.