Press Releases

Luetkemeyer Raises Concerns Over Iran’s ‘Ghost Fleet’

Today, Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) led the House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions in a hearing  entitled “Restricting Rogue-State Revenue: Strengthening Energy Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and Venezuela.”

Watch Chairman Luetkemeyer’s opening remarks HERE.

During questioning, Rep. Luetkemeyer raised the issue of illicit oil shipments through Panama, skirting U.S. sanctions and supplementing the Chinese government’s reserves.

Rep. Luetkemeyer: “You talked about the ‘Ghost Fleet’ enabling China to get access to a lot of this oil through Panamanian tankers. Would you like to elaborate on how we can curtail that activity? Is Panama not working with us?”

Ms. Claire Jungman, Chief of Staff, United Against Nuclear Iran: “[Panama doesn’t flag] over half of the ‘Ghost Fleet,’ and that’s just vessels transporting Iranian oil. If you added in vessels transporting Russian or Venezuelan, that number could be much higher…There needs to be pressure on Panama. United Against Nuclear Iran, for example, has written over 65 different letters to the Panamanian Maritime Authority, providing them with bills of lading, satellite imagery, and so on showing these vessels transporting this type of oil— and they’ve taken little to no action.”

Watch the full clip HERE.

Background: Iran uses a ‘Ghost Fleet’ of oil tankers that are technically separate from the country’s NITC tanker fleet—to ship hundreds of millions of barrels of Iranian and Russian oil. These ships and their voyages are designed to skirt U.S. energy sanctions and exploit regulatory loopholes. Most of these vessels operate covertly, often manipulating their tracking systems, changing names, and using ship-to-ship transfers to obscure their activities.