Domestic Economy

Iranian Vessels Make Comeback With Renewed Dynamism

Iranian Vessels Make Comeback With Renewed DynamismIranian Vessels Make Comeback With Renewed Dynamism

All restrictions on Iranian shipping companies have been lifted following the removal of western sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program as of January 16, said the chairman of the Shipping Association of Iran.

“With sanctions gone, Iranian vessels are now allowed to freely sail around the world. Likewise, foreign vessels are permitted to enter Iran’s territorial waters,” ISNA also quoted Masoud Pol Meh as saying.

Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines’ container carrier Azargoun called at Belgium’s Antwerp Port in March, for the first time in almost half a decade after calling at the Port of Hamburg. The Iranian ship moored in the Deurganck dock after departure from Germany’s Hamburg.

The last time IRISL made port calls to Europe was in 2010 through its subsidiary Hafiz Darya Shipping Company, or HDS Lines.

Up until 2010, Antwerp was the main European port destination for Iranian cargo. Now that sanctions against Iran have been lifted, the Port Authority is eager to restore economic relations with that country.

Moreover, a 5,100-TEU container ship docked at a quay in South Korea’s western port city of Incheon in June.

> MoU With Antwerp Port

Last week, Belgium’s Antwerp Port Authority signed a memorandum of understanding with Shahid Rajaie Port Authority, located in Iran’s southern Hormozgan Province.

Under the terms of the MoU, the respective port authorities of Antwerp and Bandar Abbas will join forces so that companies in both ports can collaborate and develop trade between Iran and Belgium.

This involves, among other things, exchanging information and statistics, participating in joint port development projects and collaborating in the field of workforce training.

The accord has been agreed to run for five years and was signed by Eddy Bruyninckx, the CEO of Antwerp Port Authority, and Ebrahim Idani, the head of Iran Port and Maritime Organization’s Hormozgan Department, in the presence of PMO chief, Mahmoud Saeednejad, in Tehran.

The visiting Belgian delegation accompanying Bruyninckx comprised representatives of 12 companies active in the field of transit and logistics and was joined by Belgian Ambassador to Iran Francois Delhaye.

“Today we are restoring our trade ties with Iran, a country with great economic growth potential that is also a gateway to neighboring countries. Antwerp is perfectly situated to contribute to further trade with this country,” Bruyninckx told a press conference held at PMO’s headquarters in Tehran.

In recent years, international trade sanctions limited Iran to importing goods not affected by export restrictions. Calls by the Iranian state shipping company’s vessels in European ports were not permitted. The lifting of sanctions allowed many shipowners to return to normal trade, as the US removed 606 vessels and vessel aliases from the sanctions list, from crude oil tankers and dry bulk carriers to supply vessels.

IRISL Managing Director Mohammad Saeednejad told The Wall Street Journal late last year that annual seaborne trade between the European Union and Iran amounted to $15 billion before the first broad, international sanctions were imposed on the country in 2008.

Tehran expects to reach that level within three years after sanctions are lifted.

As of October 2015, the IRISL had a fleet of 41 container vessels, with the biggest ships having a maximum capacity of around 12,000 containers.

The shipping line's standing has recently improved from 23rd to 22nd in global shipping monitor Alphaliner’s ranking of top 100 largest containership operators.

According to Alphaliner’s May 11 report, IRISL Group’s 97,871 TEU capacity places it between Hong Kong-based shipping lines of KMTC (107,245 TEU) and SITC (88,467 TEU).

Iran is gearing up for a comeback in global shipping by systematically replacing its fleet. People involved in the talks told The Wall Street Journal that the IRISL and Iranian Offshore Oil Company have reached a preliminary agreement with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard of South Korea for orders valued at about $2.4 billion.

The orders are said to include as many as 10 petroleum-product tankers (each costing about $30 million) and at least six handy-sized bulk carriers (each costing about $20 million to build).

The shipping line is also reportedly discussing with Hyundai Heavy Industries Group an order for six 14,500-container ships.