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The foreign ministry is considering submitting a formal verbal complaint to the UK for the detention of an oil tanker transporting crude oil to Syria by British troops, in Spanish waters close to Gibraltar, which violates the sanctions of the EU in this country.

As reported by EFE's sources from the foreign ministry, prior to this detention the UK had consulted and shared with Spain the suspicions that the Grace I, which was planning to stop in Gibraltar, carried a crude oil load to a final destination in Syria.

In accordance with the EU sanctions regime, British officials prepared an intervention to capture the vessel when it entered the port of Gibraltar. However, as the tanker could not enter the port, the intervention was carried out in the waters surrounding Gibraltar, which are of Spanish sovereignty, although -according to the sources- Spain decided not to interfere with the operation in order to comply with EU's sanctions regime.

Following this episode, Spain has asked the British authorities for more information on the operation procedures, and at the same time reiterated its position on the Spanish sovereignty of the waters surrounding the Rock.

This Thursday, Spain's foreign minister, Josep Borrell, confirmed that the circumstances of the detention of this supertanker were being investigated to verify whether the case affects Spanish sovereignty. "We are seeing into how our sovereignty is affected by this, insofar as this instance has taken place in waters whose sovereignty we understand to be Spain's" he claimed.

The UK considers that the tanker Grace 1 was carrying crude oil to the Banyas refinery in Syria, which is owned by an entity subject to EU sanctions. For this reason, according to Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, the captain of the port of Gibraltar was ordered to take control of the vessel, assisted by the Royal Police of Gibraltar and the Customs Service.

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