By BIMAN MUKHERJI
NEW DELHI -- Iranian naval authorities have detained an Indian oil tanker carrying Iraqi oil through the Persian Gulf on its way to India, the tanker's owner and an Indian shipping official said Thursday.
The Shipping Corp. of India, the ship's owner, said Iranian authorities have detained the vessel since Tuesday afternoon and had alleged the Suezmax crude-oil tanker was polluting Iranian waters, though the company denies the allegation. Suezmax tankers are medium-sized oil tankers capable on average of carrying 1 million bbl of oil.
"They have detained one of our tankers. Iranian authorities have alleged that it was polluting their water, which is absolutely wrong," said B.K. Mandal, chairman and managing director of the Shipping Corp. of India. "The ship was not in the vicinity of Iranian water."
Mr. Mandal said Iranian naval officials Thursday remained on board the ship, which was sailing. He said the Iranian officials may be directing it to an Iranian port.
"It may be going to Bandar Abbas," Mr. Mandal said.
The Marine Traffic commercial ship-tracking website showed the company's MT Desh Shanti vessel, at 0605 GMT Thursday, was traveling southeast at a speed of 11.5 knots off Iran's coastline in the Persian Gulf.
The Iranian Ministry of Defense's press office couldn't immediately be reached by phone and didn't respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the matter.
The MT Desh Shanti is a 158,030-deadweight-ton oil tanker built in 2004, according to the owner's website.
Shipping Corp. of India Ltd. is working with Indian embassy authorities in Tehran to try to resolve the matter, a company director said.
Amitava Banerjee, chief surveyor of India's Ministry of Shipping, said Iran detained the ship without any provocation.
"The United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Sea 1982 guarantees passage of the ship," he said.
Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry, declined to immediately comment on the matter.
Dow Jones Newswires