Iran’s Biggest Ship Owner Hopeful Trade Revives After Agreement

NITC, the Tehran-based company that is the biggest owner of supertankers, said it’s hopeful that last month’s agreement between Iran and world powers will eventually lead to an easing of sanctions on its fleet.

The U.S. and European Union said Nov. 24 they will ease sanctions against Iran in return for concessions over its nuclear program. Oil importers won’t be allowed to buy more from Iran and EU and U.S. sanctions on NITC remain in place.

“We hope that the recent developments reached on political levels will ease restrictions on our fleet and will smooth business grounds for those who are willing to work with us,” NITC Chairman Ali Safaei said in an e-mail today.

Most of NITC tankers delivered Iran’s oil to the nation’s customers since sanctions intensified, Safaei said. The ships sailed to countries including China, India, South Korea and Taiwan since July last year, when European measures barred most non-Iranian tankers from the trade.

NITC has a fleet of 37 very large crude carriers, which can typically hold about 2 million barrels of oil, according to Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker. The largest publicly traded owner of the vessels is Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. in Tokyo, with a fleet of 32, the broker’s data show.

The way in which the EU and U.S. intend to ease sanctions means NITC is unlikely to benefit, said Andrew Bardot, the secretary and executive officer of the International Group of P&I Clubs in London. The group’s members cover about 90 percent of the global merchant fleet for risks including oil spills.

While Europe plans to suspend an insurance ban that stopped almost all international ship owners from calling at Iranian ports, NITC will still have to rely on a domestic insurer, Bardot said.

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