The Monte Toledo oil tanker covered the uneventful voyage from Iran to Europe with a haul of 1 million barrels of crude in just 17 days, but its journey has been four years in the making.
On Sunday, the tanker became the first to deliver Iranian crude into Europe since mid-2012, when Brussels imposed an oil embargo in an attempt to force the Middle Eastern nation to negotiate the end of its nuclear program. The ban was lifted in January as part of a broader deal that ended a decade of sanctions.
The 275-meter (900-foot) tanker started offloading its cargo into a refinery owned by Cia. Espanola de Petroleos, near Algeciras, a few miles from Gibraltar. By midday, the vessel had already pumped to shore about a fifth of its cargo.
Jose Ramon Gomez Estancona, the captain of the Monte Toledo, said loading the crude at the Kharg Island terminal off Iran was a similar process to before the embargo. Staff at the port were “happy that normality was returning” to the country’s oil exports, he said.
In southern Spain, the tanker’s arrival was met with little fanfare. It was a quiet Sunday at the refinery, and for the workers, the Monte Toledo is just one of the eight or so vessels they expect to receive this month. By the time the refinery has taken in all the Iranian crude, another tanker from Algeria will already be waiting.