The Monte Toledo oil tanker covered the uneventful voyage from Iran to Europe with a haul of one million barrels of crude in just 17 days, but its journey has been four years in the making. On Sunday, the tanker became the first to deliver Iranian crude into Europe since mid-2012, when Brussels imposed an oil embargo in an attempt to force the Middle Eastern nation to negotiate the end of its nuclear program. The ban was lifted in January as part of a broader deal that ended a decade of sanctions. The 275-meter tanker started offloading its cargo into a refinery owned by Cia. Espanola de Petroleos, near Algeciras, a few miles from Gibraltar. By midday, the vessel had already pumped to shore about a fifth of its cargo.
In southern Spain, the tanker s arrival was met with little fanfare. It was a quiet Sunday at the refinery, and for the workers, the Monte Toledo is just one of the eight or so vessels they expect to receive this month. By the time the refinery has taken in all the Iranian crude, another tanker from Algeria will be already waiting. Nonetheless, there s a wider significance. As the Monte Toledo started to pump to shore through two 21-inch floating hoses connected to a giant buoy and a 1.8-kilometer submarine pipeline, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared in Tehran that more oil exports will be added soon. Around Europe, other tankers with Iranian oil are close behind the Monte Toledo. In February, 29 vessels loaded crude from the Middle Eastern nation, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Of them, three are heading toward Europe the Eurohope tanker is sailing to Constanta, an oil port in Romania, and the Atlantas is on its way to France. Another one, the Distya Akula, is anchored at the mouth of the Suez Canal, and is likely to head into a Mediterranean port.
The Monte Toledo and its companions are the vanguard in the return of Iran into the European oil market. Petro-Logistics SA, a Geneva-based tanker-tracking firm, estimated Iran exported in February about 1.4 million barrels a day, up 350,000 barrels a day from the average 2015 level. Although the increase falls short of the 500,000 barrels a day that Tehran had promised, there are signs that exports into Europe will pick up this month.
It does take a while to get those fields back up, said Petro-Logistics director Daniel Gerber. But I think they re going to hit the increase of 500,000 barrels a day in March.
Seth Kleinman, head of energy research at Citigroup in London, agreed, saying that in addition to higher export volumes this month, more countries were buying.
You see tankers going to Spain, Romania, Tanzania, France and the U.A.E. You got an uptick to India in February too, he said. Still, hurdles remain. Lingering banking restraints mean some customers are finding it hard to transfer payments for Iranian crude and the National Iranian Oil Co. has offered to swap crude for gasoline to get deals done, according to local reports.
Iran will want to win back customers in Europe, where Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other rival suppliers stepped in after the embargo was imposed. Tehran also faces a rival unknown four years ago: the U.S. has started exporting crude and companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. are shipping American Crude into refineries in the Mediterranean. Before the embargo Europe imported on average about 400,000 barrels a day of oil from Iran, according to the International Energy Agency. Cepsa alone was buying about 60,000 barrels a day. Total SA was among the biggest buyers and the French company is waiting to receive the Atlantas tanker later this month in its refinery in Le Havre. Other European top buyers in past, including Repsol SA, Eni SpA and Hellenic Petroleum SA, have yet to purchase any. If all goes as Tehran has planned, the Middle Eastern country will boost its production back to the 3.6 million barrels a day it pumped in 2011. After the European embargo was imposed and the U.S. tightened other sanctions, Iranian oil production dropped to about 2.8 million barrels a day.
First Star: Ilya Sorokin, G-2014 3rd Round Draft Pick, 78th overall (CSKA Moscow, KHL)
It may seem as if Ilya Sorokin pops up on this list too often, but with the way he has played this year, it s difficult to justify leaving him off. Just like nearly every month this year, Sorokin was lights out in February for KHL giants CSKA Moscow. Although he only saw time in two regular season games this month, going 1-1 with a .927 save percentage and a goals-against-average just north of two, the playoffs became Sorokin s time to shine. Sorokin played in all four games in CSKA s sweep of Lubomir Visnovsky s Slovan Bratislava, and remained steady in the four contests. The series for the young Russian netminder included a game-one shutout and a game-two overtime victory. He gave up only four total goals in the first round and posted a spectacular .959 save percentage. Sorokin s dominant regular season has so far translated into a dominant postseason for the team many consider to be favorites to win the KHL this year. CSKA has some former NHLers on the team, including Alexander Radulov and Stephane Da Costa, along with Islanders draft pick Kirill Petrov. As dominant as the team has been, Sorokin has shown to be one of the most consistent and reliable forces on the team, which is some high praise for a 20-year-old goalie in one of the top leagues in the world. If he can lead CSKA to the title, and continue to put up great numbers, it will be hard to discount Sorokin as one of the top goalies outside of the NHL, and as one of the best, if not the best, Islanders prospect.
Second Star: Michael Dal Colle F, 2014 1st Round Draft Pick, 5th overall (Kingston Frontenacs)
Michael Dal Colle
After another fantastic month on his new Kingston team, Michael Dal Colle was a CSKA sweep away from getting another month as my first star. Both the Oshawa Generals and New York Islanders were understandably disappointed in the former 5th overall pick s inability to find the scoring touch he had shown throughout his junior career and he stayed much of the 2015 part of the season under a point per game. But Dal Colle turned his game around since the New Year s trade and followed up a 24 point in twelve games January with 22 points in eleven games during February. Dal Colle also put up 47 shots this month (second highest total for a month this season behind January) and was a +15 for the month. His Frontenacs team is 9-1 out of their last ten and has already clinched the East Division title. Kingston was seen as a top team in the weaker Eastern Conference before the trade but now look like a runaway freight train headed for the OHL Finals. The relative weak competition in the Eastern Division sets up Dal Colle very well for a return trip to the Memorial Cup. By contrast Kitcher, a top team in all of the Canada Major Junior, could have to play OHL powerhouses Windsor, London, and Erie just to reach the finals from the Western Conference.
Third Star: Mathew Barzal, F-2015 1st Round Draft Pick, 15th overall (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)
It s safe to say that Mathew Barzal came back from an up-and-down WJC to post strong numbers in January scoring fourteen points in twelve games. That play earned him a spot on my Who s Hot and Who s Not section. It s also safe to say that Barzal has erupted going into March with a twenty point month in just thirteen games played. What makes this more impressive is that Barzal did not register a point in his first three games of February but then proceeded to score in every game since. He s currently riding a ten game point streak with seven of those games being multi-point games. Barzal has picked a great time to get hot for his Seattle Thunderbirds team. They are 8-2 since his point streak started and are inching closer to the top of the U.S. division in the WHL, just behind Everett. Seattle is three points behind the Silvertips with a game in hand and will most likely need this divisional title to avoid Portland in the first round. The Winterhawks bounced Seattle in the first round last year and have proven to be a tough test for Barzal s team thus far.
Who s Hot and Who s Not:
Hot: Devon Toews, D 2014 4th round draft pick, 108th overall (Quinnipiac University, NCAA)
Devon Toews got some love in my under-the-radar for February for his stellar offensive play and for helping lead Quinnipiac to a #1 national ranking. Well it s the end of the month and to be honest little has changed for the Bobcats defensemen. He s still scoring from the blueline, ten points in eight February games, and Quinnipiac is still ranked #1 nationally. Toews is finding a lot of playing time in all situations this season and that trust has paid off handsomely for Coach Pecknold and Quinnipiac. Not: Sebastian Collberg F, Acquired In Trade (Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL)
Many fans will remember Sebastian Collberg as part of the return (along with a second round pick) that the Islanders got for Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline in 2014. A former early second rounder for Montreal, Collberg never found much of a scoring touch in Finland and continued to struggle finding the back of the net last year in the AHL. While there was some hope that would change this season, Collberg has seen his production, and in consequence his playing time, evaporate into near nothingness over the past few months. He has just one assist in only six games played this month and two points in his last eighteen for the AHL club spanning back to December. 2016-2017 will see top prospects Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang become eligible for the AHL for the first time and potentially take away more chances for the Swedish forward to get a top-6 role.
Hot: Eamon McAdam G, 2013 3rd Round Draft Pick, 70th overall (Penn State, NCAA)
Eamon McAdam finally started to turn heads this season after back to back disappointing years for Penn State and hopes to come away with some hardware too. McAdam was nominated for the Mike Richter award which is given to the best goaltender in the NCAA. Pretty impressive for the junior who has been splitting time in net with senior Matthew Skoff all season long. He certainly has the better numbers of the tandem with more wins, better goals against and a higher save percentage. McAdam posted a 2-0-1 record in three starts during February along with a near two goals against average and a .943 save percentage. Not: Christopher Gibson, G-Acquired In Trade (Bridgeport Sound Tigers, AHL)
The disappointing downward trend for Christopher Gibson continued into February as a promising start to the season, a sub two goals against average and a .928 save percentage by the end of December, have all been nearly evaporated since 2016 started. In February, Gibson posted a 3.95 goals against and a sub .880 save percentage. His lowest moment may have been when he was pulled just over five minutes into the second in a February 10th game vs. Hershey where he gave up five goals on eighteen shots. Anyone who has perused my reports over the last few months, or just read through this one, will note that the Islanders have some goalie prospects that have been exceptional this year (McAdam, Sorokin, and Soderstrom). If Gibson wants to show he has a future on this team by the time next year comes around, he s going to need to find his game again and find it soon. Hot: Ryan Pulock, D-2013 draft pick 15th overall (Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL)
It s hard to not give recognition to any top prospect that gets his first taste of NHL experience as 2013 first rounder Ryan Pulock got against Edmonton in late February. His call-up is one part reward for his improving all around play this year and one part a response to injuries to Islanders defensemen Calvin De Haan and Adam Pelech. In February, Pulock put up five points in eight games for the Sound Tigers and registered a +4. He showed most of his best traits in his first NHL game, a booming slap shot, poise with the puck, and imposing frame, and looks to continue getting NHL ice time for as long as he can.
RIPLEY, N.Y. Crews worked Wednesday to clear the site of a 16-car Norfolk Southern freight train derailment that forced the evacuation of dozens of western New York homes after ethanol leaked from two tankers. A spokesman for the rail company and police said the train left the tracks around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the town of Ripley, about 60 miles southwest of Buffalo. No one was injured and there was no fire, emergency response officials said, but two of the derailed cars contained ethanol that leaked. Chief Mark Smith of the Ripley Volunteer Fire Department said the leaks from both cars were contained Wednesday morning. A derailed tanker containing propane is intact, officials said.
A state of emergency is in effect in the town, Smith said. There was no immediate word on what may have caused the accident. Dozens of firefighters who responded to the scene endured 20-degree temperatures, snow, freezing rain and winds that gusted to 30 mph overnight, emergency officials said. Heavy equipment was brought in to right the overturned cars, while the remaining ethanol was being transferred from the derailed tankers to trucks, Smith said.
Between 50 and 55 homes in the town of about 2,400 were evacuated due to the potential risk of an explosion and fire the ethanol and propane posed, Smith said.
It could have been a lot worse, he said. Nearby schools were closed and about 30 residents were given assistance at a shelter set up at a local church, officials said. The derailment occurred on one of four sets of tracks along a stretch of rails running through a section of town located just a couple miles from the Lake Erie shoreline in western Chautauqua County.
All four tracks were shut down for a time, but one was reopened to CSX freight traffic a few hours after the derailment. There was no immediate estimate on when the other three tracks would be cleared for traffic that includes Amtrak passenger trains and other freight trains, Smith said.
We want to make sure we get life back to normal, train traffic back to normal, as soon as we can, but we have to do this safely, said Norfolk Southern spokesman David Pidgeon.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement issued at 1:10 a.m. Wednesday that the derailment had occurred at approximately 11:20 p.m. Tuesday. There was no immediate word from his office about the two-hour discrepancy between when the accident actually occurred and when the governor said it did.