4th Tanker Leaves Iranian Floating Storage

4th Tanker Leaves Iranian Floating Storage4th Tanker Leaves Iranian Floating Storage

Another tanker has left Iran's floating storage fleet, the fourth to detach from one of two flotillas based in the Persian Gulf since Iran's landmark nuclear deal on July 14.

The National Iranian Tanker Company-owned Nancy had anchored off Kharg Island for 135 days until August 19, when its transponder was shut off, making the ship "invisible" to vessel-tracking software, Platts cFlow data showed.

The 2.1 million-barrel vessel then reappeared briefly on Sunday in the UAE's Fujairah waiting zone—where ships often bunker prior to long journeys or conduct ship-to-ship transfers—before going invisible Monday, bound for an unknown destination.

Since the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers was reached in Vienna, Austria, three other tankers have also left the storage flotilla of OPEC's third-biggest producer, the first being the NITC's Starla—which had been anchored off Kharg Island for over 216 days.

The Tanzanian-flagged vessel similarly visited the Khor Fakkan waiting zone and sailed July 15 for Malacca, Malaysia, where it went invisible July 28. The ship reappeared Friday further up the coast, but was heading back to Fujairah. Whether the Starla discharged its cargo at a particular Asian port or conducted a ship-to-ship transfer remains unknown.

Toward the end of July, the Sol, an NITC Suezmax with a capacity of 1 million barrels, also detached from the storage fleet and is currently sailing in North Asia bound for the South Korean port of Ulsan.

At the beginning of August, NITC's very large crude carrier the Nobel left the flotilla, sailing to Fujairah where it switched off its transponder August 9—going unobserved since—with its future port destination unknown.

If fully laden, the total cargoes of these ships—apart from the Korean-bound Sol—account for around 6 million barrels.

Platts estimated on Monday that the amount of Iranian condensate held afloat was between 51 million and 53 million barrels, stored on a combination of vessel classes and on both NITC and non-NITC-owned ships.

The condensate in Iran's floating stockpiles could be sold relatively quickly once sanctions against Iran are lifted, while some analysts suggest that some of this oil could be exported ahead of the official sanctions relief.