The threat of getting caught up in US sanctions is causing many tanker owners to back out of sales or refuse to entertain offers from buyers that have questionable backgrounds.

Sellers pulling back from such deals has intensified since Polembros Shipping sold a suezmax to an Omani-registered company in October that turned out to be a front for Iranian interests connected to the country’s sanctioned oil industry.

In one example, market sources claimed this week that an owner of a 19-year-old zinc-coated methanol carrier had refused to sell it to a Chinese buyer despite being offered nearly $2m more than the market price.