Iran set to unleash tanker fleet

Iran’s oil-shipping giant National Iranian Tankers Company (NITC) is set to make a return on the European and international markets as soon as possible following a deal on lifting of nuclear sanctions agreed upon on Tuesday between Iran and six world powers in Vienna, a company official has confirmed.

Under the deal, sanctions against Iran’s oil export sector are to be lifted in exchange for additional restrains on the country’s nuclear program. The agreement is expected to boost the Middle Eastern country’s oil exports and pave the way for its tankers to be unleashed into the market.

“Iranian tankers will return to European and international markets in shortest possible time after the termination of nuclear sanctions,” head of the NITC’s Insurance and Legal Suits Affairs Office, Shahram Farahbod, told IRNA.

According to Farahbod, the ending of the sanctions after signing of the nuclear deal will also rid the NITC of the nuisance of those sanctions.

NITC was blacklisted by the European Union for the second time in February this year as it had failed in its legal attempt to convince a London Court to stop the EU from reimposing sanctions against it.

The sanctions, which had been imposed in 2012 over Iran’s nuclear program, banned any trade between NITC and the EU. NITC was also blacklisted in the United States.

NITC then contested the blacklisting, arguing that the company is privately owned by Iranian pension funds, and unaffiliated with the Iranian government.

As a result, the EU lifted the sanctions against Iran’s largest oil tanker company in October 2014, but reimposed them in February. The legal brouhaha has left out NITC from international trade ever since.

Iran’s return to the market would increase production in an oversupplied market, notably with regards to difficulties in placing and discharging cargoes ashore, Gibson Shipbrokers says in its tanker report. However, more Iranian tonnage will come with the release of more Iranian crude.

The Iranian fleet currently consists of 37 VLCCs (6% of the global VLCC fleet), 12 Suezmaxes and 5 Aframaxes. The fleet will need to re-establish compliance with international standards if it is to enter the mainstream spot markets.

Iranian officials disclosed they would make efforts to maximize crude exports to Europe and restore a market share of over 40 percent there, Reuters reports. Some analysts estimate that Iran’s oil exports could increase by up to 60 percent within a year.

The implementation of the agreement between Iran and US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany (the so called P5+1) may take months depending on Iran’s willingness to meet its obligations in the deal.

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