Iranian Tankers Ready to Enter European Oil Market

Energy Desk
Iranian Tankers Ready to Enter European Oil MarketIranian Tankers Ready to Enter European Oil Market

The National Iranian Tanker Company is prepared to deliver petroleum products to European countries, as Iran is only days away from the removal of sanctions.

NITC's Managing Director Ali Akbar Safaei made the statement to reporters on Monday ahead of an international conference in Tehran on Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the company. The convention is expected to bring together more than 600 representatives of domestic and foreign companies.

"Several ministers and deputy ministers from European and Asian countries will take part," Safaei said. American companies are absent from the list of participants.

"The conference will be a platform to introduce our potential and negotiate with foreign partners," he said. "NITC is ready to take on global markets."

Sanctions against the NITC, like other companies on the sanctions list, will be removed once Iran's nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, takes effect. Safaei said Iran will be allowed to insure its tankers without restrictions, ruling out any speculation of a delay in the termination of insurance companies' sanctions.

"Iranian nuclear negotiators were firm on lifting the sanctions against the country's oil industry, including the tanker fleet," he said.

"Since two years ago, NITC has been planning for different scenarios of sanctions to maintain the company's leverage."

Asked whether NITC will offer any discount to international customers, Safaei said, "There is a global scale for transportation tariffs, which many companies abide by, but we may act differently with our bigger customers."

  NITC Vessels

The average age of NITC tankers is 8.5 years and the company boasts one of the most modern fleets in the world.

"In some areas, NITC performs above global standards," Safaei said. In the last decade, 90% of Iranian imports were were loaded in Dubai by NITC tankers and delivered at Iran's Shahid Rajaei Port," he said, adding that at present, 80% of cargos from Europe, America and Asia are directly transferred to Iran, significantly reducing expenses.

About the joint construction of tankers for LNG, FLNG (Floating LNG) and FSO (Floating, Storage and Offloading) units with an unnamed French company, Safaei said the company has been in talks with companies from Germany and Belgium, in addition to France.

"In view of the remarkable history of NITC and its huge financial resources, which is estimated at $3.5 trillion, the Iranian company is ready to implement such projects," he said.

The NITC chief executive said plans have been made to activate domestic insurance companies and ranking institutes after the lifting of sanctions. He stressed that Iran will also cooperate with credible international companies and institutes. On NITC's new export targets in the post-sanctions period, Safaei said, "It has arranged for opening new markets, in addition to traditional destinations such as Spain, Greece, France and Germany."

With foreign and domestic investments, Iran can turn into a key player in the shipment of petroleum products.

"Whenever we need more tankers, we can buy or build new ones," he claimed. Noting that the number of pirate attacks has risen in the Gulf of Aden in 2015, he said, "Iranian fleet faced about 70 pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden, none of which was successful, as Iranian armed forces were protecting the tankers."

  Five-Year Roadmap

Safaei said a five-year comprehensive roadmap has been devised by the company, in which all international and domestic considerations are taken into account.

"The roadmap is dynamic and it will be revised annually in line with any change in conditions," he added. The NITC chief said more than 70 million tons of oil and gas products have been transported by the company during the nine months ending December 21, 2015.

"NITC's total transfer capacity is 15.5 million tons, 95% of which are currently occupied … In view of the company's plans and the prospective increase in Iran's oil production after sanctions removal, NITC is fully prepared to offer best services to its customers," he said.

Asked about the probable effects of regional tensions on NITC, Safaei said, "Unfortunately, some countries are looking for tensions, but the Islamic Republic has always survived the crises." The NITC chief also told Financial Tribune that China's present economic crisis cannot seriously harm the company.

"As China is a huge economy and its slowdown is to the detriment of the world, many countries will help China return to its past position … China has devaluated its currency. This can boost foreign trade and boost its economy. Thus, they will be, at last, in need of Iranian raw materials," he said.

Safaei noted that other major economies such as India make up for the loss faced by China during a recession.