(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. seized four tankers carrying Iranian gasoline bound for Venezuela in an unprecedented move by the Trump administration that carries the potential to destabilize global oil shipments if Iran retaliates.The tankers were transporting 1.116 million barrels of petroleum, which has now been confiscated after help from “foreign partners,” the Justice Department said in a statement Friday. It is not clear where the ships were at the time of the seizures because they had all turned off their satellite-tracking systems to avoid detection between May and July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“These actions represent the government’s largest-ever seizure of fuel shipments from Iran,” according to the DOJ statement, which said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated a foreign terrorist organization, was behind the shipment.The prospect of retaliatory action by Iran has the potential to disrupt oil markets if Iran interferes with international oil tankers transiting the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most critical choke point for oil shipments. However, the impact to oil prices may be limited from what it once might have been given lower fuel consumption in the face of pandemic-driven lockdowns.“The seizure did not escalate militarily because there were no Iranian naval vessels escorting the tankers that had orders to engage,” said Scott Modell, managing director of Rapidan Energy Group. “But this is getting closer to the line. Tehran will show caution, for now, knowing that Iran’s collaboration with Venezuela was unlikely to ever go beyond a few small-scale transactions and public displays of anti-Trump solidarity.”In DefianceIran was exporting gasoline to fuel-starved Venezuela in defiance of U.S. sanctions that are intended to choke off both nations from oil revenue. Presently, Venezuela is unable to produce gasoline because of widespread mechanical failures at its refineries and needed the shipments to alleviate fuel rationing. Five Iranian tankers arrived without incident in May and July, delivering about 1.5 million barrels of gasoline and stunning observers who wondered at the time if Iran would so blatantly defy U.S. sanctions efforts.Subsequently, in July the U.S. filed a complaint seeking to forfeit the cargoes aboard four more tankers underway for South American nation. A seizure order was granted for the M/T Bella, M/T Bering, M/T Pandi and M/T Luna. The Wall Street Journal reported that the ships are being directed toward Houston in the coming days.The Pandi, also known as Andy, and the Luna turned off their satellite signals on July 7 near the Strait of Hormuz, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bering switched off its transponder on May 11 while approaching the Aegean Sea. The Bella was last seen May 11 near the Philippines. The Iranian ambassador to Venezuela, Hojat Soltani, said in a tweet the ships weren’t Iranian and didn’t comment on the cargoes. The disclosure of the seizure adds to a broader effort by the Trump administration to turn up the heat on Iran. The United Nations Security Council is nearing a vote on a U.S. resolution to extend an international ban on arms deals with Iran, threatening to assert the right to “snap back” sanctions eased under the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned.President Donald Trump was asked about the tankers at a press conference in Washington. “Iran’s not supposed to be doing that,” he said. “We seized the tankers and we’re moving them” to Houston, he said. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo tweeted that the proceeds of the confiscated cargoes could go to help U.S. victims of state-sponsored terrorism if they’re forfeited by the courts.The Trump administration views the maritime industry as the weak spot in sanctions enforcement. In May, the Treasury released an advisory on what the shipping sector should be looking for in terms of evasion techniques and potential red flags with a focus on Iran, North Korea and Syria.For now, oil markets have taken the cargo seizures in their stride. Prices in New York and London are lower for a second day with fears that a resurgence in virus cases will hamper demand outweighing concerns of a potential flare up in oil shipping lanes.(Updates with UN vote in ninth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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TORONTO — Long after Brock Nelson scored on a breakaway to restore the New York Islanders' lead, he and his teammates hemmed the Washington Capitals in their zone for a long shift that can wear an opponent down.Then Cal Clutterbuck tipped Jean-Gabriel Pageau's shot past Braden Holtby to break the Capitals' will. It was the kind of sequence that coach Barry Trotz beamed at and was on display two years ago when he led Washington to the Stanley Cup.Trotz is on the other side now, and his Islanders beat the Capitals 5-2 Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series. New York played Trotz's trademark structured, suffocating style perfectly, from responding to a Capitals goal in the first minute to controlling the puck when it mattered most.“That’s how you win, and guys are committed to that effort,” Trotz said. “We didn’t back off. We just stayed to our game, and we got the result we wanted.”Given 86% of teams that go up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series in NHL history have gone on to win it, Trotz is well on the way to beating the team that let him walk rather than give him a raise after delivering the first title in franchise history. The Capitals instead promoted assistant Todd Reirden to head coach and have not since won a playoff series.Trotz showed his value behind the bench when the Islanders reached the second round last year and again in these playoffs. The Islanders won a penalty-filled, physical Game 1 and handled a different style in Game 2 without looking fazed.“We’re just trying to play the way that we know how to play,” Clutterbuck said. “That’s the strength of our team is getting back to that game that’s successful for us. They’ve got a lot of different ways they can play, and that’s a great team. We’re trying to focus on ourselves here and do what we can."Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin registered his first point of the NHL's restart when he scored 56 seconds in. He scored again in the second period to tie it and missed out on a second career playoff hat trick when he hit the side of the net on a prime chance on the power play in the third.“I just missed the net,” Ovechkin said.Washington’s penalty kill that was a perfect 14-for-14 finally allowed a goal when Nick Leddy scored a power-play goal in the second period. A turnover by Lars Eller led to a goal by Matt Martin before Ovechkin tied it.Then another Capitals mistake wound up in their net. Jakub Vrana coughed up the puck at the offensive blue line, springing Nelson for his breakaway goal 15 seconds after Ovechkin scored. Vrana was benched for the final 13 minutes of the period, and he's not the only Washington player who's struggling.“We have some adversity,” Reirden said. “We have to fight through. It’s not going to happen easily, it never does, and we have to put more work in and match that compete to give ourselves a chance to have some of our skill be more present in the game.”Knowing Trotz's experience and looking at the talented Capitals on the other side, the Islanders also know they're not going to move on to the second round without a fight.“It doesn’t get any easier from here,” Martin said. "They have a championship pedigree over there. It’s just going to get harder and harder from here, so we’ve got to be ready and we’ve got to stay true to our game as much as possible and hopefully at the end of the day that’s enough.”NOTES: Islanders D Johnny Boychuk missed his fifth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. ... Backstrom was out after going into concussion protocol. ... Ovechkin scored his 66th and 67th playoff goals to move into sole possession of 20th on the NHL's career list. ... Eller returned after missing the last three games for the birth of his son.UP NEXTGame 3 is Sunday at noon.___For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press
Not yet 30, Beijing office worker Li thought she was already on her way up China's private property ladder with two apartments bought and rented out. Then came the new coronavirus, jobless tenants leaving town and a rent falloff. Analysts say there's little prospect of widespread mortgage defaults for now, and property prices continue to grow, albeit more slowly.