Iran released the crews of two small US navy vessels who were taken into custody on Tuesday, saying they strayed into Iran’s waters “unintentionally”.
The elite Revolutionary Guards in a statement on Wednesday said the release of the 10 US sailors – nine men and one woman – came after Iran’s investigations corresponded with the US authorities’ explanation that the high-speed boats had no intention to enter into the country’s waters
“Americans promised not to repeat these mistakes,” the statement of the Guards said.
US officials said the incident happened near Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf. They said some type of mechanical trouble with one of the boats caused them to drift into Iranian territorial waters near the island, and they were picked up by the Iranian Navy.
Bahrain and Oman have increased fuel prices significantly as the Gulf states struggle to rein in budget deficits and ease pressure on government coffers ravaged by the decline in oil prices.
The two poorer members of the six-strong Gulf Co-operation Council followed the example of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in cutting subsidies and spending while looking at ways to boost non-oil revenues.
Bahrain, which last year ended state subsidies on meat, announced that regular petrol would rise on Tuesday by 56.3 per cent to 0.125 Bahraini dinars (33 US cents) per litre and premium petrol would increase by 60 per cent to BD 0.160.
Oman said it would raise regular petrol by 23 per cent to 0.140 Omani riyals (36 US cents,) premium petrol by a third to OR 0.160 and diesel by 10 per cent to OR 0.160. The Omani price increase comes into effect on January 15 and will be reviewed monthly. The reform, which includes spending cuts, was endorsed by cabinet in Muscat last month.
Bahrain needs around $125 a barrel to balance its budget, while Oman’s fiscal break-even price is around $110 a barrel.
Two United States Navy boats have been taken into Iranian custody, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
A defense official initially told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran informed the U.S. that the crew would be “promptly” returned. However, ABC News later reported that Iran will hold the two boats overnight and will allow them to resume voyage at daylight, according to a senior defense official.
The defense official who spoke to the Free Beacon declined to say whether any representatives of the U.S. government have spoken with the detained sailors.
“Earlier today, we lost contact with two small U.S. naval craft en route from Kuwait to Bahrain. We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel. We have received assurances the 10 sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey,” the defense official said.
Fars News, a semi-official Iranian news agency, reported that the sailors are being held by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Fars also reported that Iran is claiming that the sailors entered 2 kilometers into its territory, breaching its waters.
The IRGC Navy Public Relations spokesman issued a statement confirming the “arrest” of “10 armed” American personnel who breached Iranian territorial waters near the island of Farsi in the Persian Gulf and were then transferred there, according to an independent translation of Sepah News, the official news agency of the IRGC, provided to the Free Beacon. The spokesman further stated that the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman was present southeast of the island in international waters when the arrest was made.
An expert from Italy’s Institute of International Affairs told Sputnik that the removal of sanctions against Iran’s energy exports will have a great impact on the global energy market, and may even alter the nature of OPEC.
Iran’s entry into the global energy market will enable the world’s consumers to reduce their reliance on carbon energy, and transition to supplies of cleaner gas in the drive towards a low-carbon economy, Nicolo Sartori, a Senior Research fellow in the Energy Program at the Istituto Affari Internazionali, told Radio Sputnik on Tuesday.
Russia and Iran are the two countries in the world with the most gas resources, and their cooperation in tapping into those resources will be an important step towards meeting the world’s energy needs after sanctions are fully lifted, said Sartori.
“Getting closer will be very important for Russia, first of all to be a partner in some of Iran’s projects, in particular in LNG, where Russia is not as strong as it could be, and where Iran is expected to become very strong.”
“To an extent, the two countries are quite complementary in terms of exports. Russia is a pipeline-oriented country, looking to its west, to Europe. Iran is going to possibly become an LNG country, looking eastward, to Asia, and possibly competing with the Qataris,” said Sartori, who expects Russia to remain Europe’s key energy supplier.
Some great lines in this piece on the glut of oil weighing on price
A massive supply glut has caused global oil prices to crash this year
“floating storage” of crude oil soared to nearly triple the normal level last week, according to ClipperData
It’s a “super tanker traffic jam”
Epic oil glut
Smith first noticed the maritime congestion popping up a month ago off the coast of Singapore. And then ClipperData discovered a similar phenomenon off China and even the Arabian Gulf. “There just appears to be more oil than can be dealt with. They haven’t got anywhere to put it”
Ratings agency Moody’s is the latest to warn that the huge decline in oil prices, and weak prospects for a serious recovery, are set to pinch the finances of Gulf states hard, potentially damaging the countries’ credit profiles.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, (collectively, the Gulf Cooperation Council) ran an aggregate fiscal surplus equivalent to 9 per cent of GDP from 2010 to 2014, Moody’s says. That is set to flip into a deficit close to 10 per cent in 2015 to 2016, it thinks.
Says Steffen Dyck, an analyst at Moody’s:
We expect that the impact of lower hydrocarbon revenues on GCC public finances will spur policy adjustments in 2016. These could include reductions in subsidy spending and measures to broaden the non-oil revenue base.
Brent crude, which now trades at $48.90 per barrel, is set to average $55 per barrel this year, $53 next year, and $60 in 2017, Moody’s analysts reckon. That’s well below previous forecasts of $65 in 2016 and $80 in the following year.
BP will pay a higher than expected $20.8bn to settle civil claims with US federal and state authorities over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, with $8.1bn of the funds designated for coastal wetlands and marine mammals as part of a 15-year Gulf of Mexico restoration plan.
Federal agencies provided details of the settlement for the first time in a decree that was filed on Monday. The settlement amount exceeds the $18.7bn deal announced in July, which officials attributed to additional refinements of penalties and amounts that BP has already paid.
The deal announced on Monday is the largest ever reached by the Department of Justice with a single entity and resolves what could have been years of legal wrangling over the April 2010 oil spill and explosion that killed 11 workers.
Also included in the settlement are the five Gulf states affected by the spill — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. There will be a 60-day public comment period and then the agreement will be subject to court approval.
“BP is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region,” Attorney-general Loretta Lynch said. “Once approved by the court, this agreement will launch one of the largest environmental restoration efforts the world has ever seen.”
The anti-begging campaign by Dubai Police, which began on June 7, has exposed a new category of beggars, who stay in 5-star hotels in Dubai and enter the country on business visas, according to a report in ‘Emarat Al Youm’.
Dubai Police arrested 70 such beggars, said Colonel Mohammed Rashid Al Muhairi, Director, Tourism Security, CID.
They stand before mosques, malls and roam the streets in poor clothes, but otherwise dress according to their station.
Recalling an incident, Lieutenant Colonel Ali Salem, Director, Infiltrators and Illegal Department, CID, Dubai Police, said when cops nabbed an Arab woman she pleaded with officials not to arrest her as she is a mother of four kids and they are all alone. Police discovered the kids aged between three and nine years in a 5-star hotel.
She had entered the country on a business visa and paid hotel charges on a daily basis. Police seized Dhs13,000 from her. She claimed that her husband was suffering from some hardships and so she had come to beg and earn.
The woman has been referred to Public Prosecution.
Five Iranian boats fired shots across the bow of a Singapore-flagged cargo vessel in the international waters of the Gulf on Thursday, CNN reported, citing a U.S. official.
It was unclear if the shots hit the vessel, CNN said. After the shots, the cargo vessel turned to the national waters of the United Arab Emirates, where that country protected it using its coast guard, CNN also said.
There were no U.S. personnel on the vessel, according to CNN. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report, and representatives for the Pentagon could not be immediately reached for comment.
The shots at the Singapore-flagged vessel were fired as U.S. President Barack Obama and leaders from Gulf nations were set to meet at Camp David in a rare, high-profile summit on U.S. efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Iran. The United States and five other world powers are in talks with Tehran to curb its atomic program.
Iran, currently in a standoff with a Saudi Arabia-led coalition over security inspections of its own cargo ship, last month intercepted a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz. It forced that ship into Iranian territorial waters by firing shots across its bow.