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Pirates of the Oil Industry

September 2, 2023

A tanker full of crude oil recently unloaded in Galveston, Texas, its load bound for Houston area refineries. No big deal?

The oil is suspected to have originated on Iran. The US has sanctions on Iran’s oil, based on trumped up political reasons, but the underlying motivation is economic competition.

The tanker, the Suez Rajan, was owned by a hedge fund called Oaktree Capital Management, based in LA. They abruptly sold it in May, while it was at sea, to an entity called Alma Maritime Ltd. Oaktree Capital refuses to comment. Alma Maritime does not answer its telephone. They appear to have neither offices nor an email address.

So the tanker full of embargoed Iranian crude was actually owned by a US firm playing both sides of the street. They either smuggled the oil past the US-led bllockade, or authorities looked the other way. 

The Suez Rajan is operated by a Greek business called Empire Navigation. They refuse to comment.

The ship made it to the South China Sea in May, apparently headed for Singapore. The South China Sea is also full of US naval vessels, conducting games of brinksmanship with China. 

The Suez Rajan abruptly and mysteriously changed course and sailed to the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston. Whether this unplanned course deviation occurred before or after Oaktree Capital Management sold it off to a mysterious new entity is unclear. 

Was the ship boarded? Did someone cruise about 5,000 nautical miles only to suddenly change their mind when almost within sight of their destination? No one is willing to comment.

Who are the pirates in this picture? That’s right, everyone.


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