Marked Increase in Iran's Oil Exports to Europe

The group of ship-owners taking crude from Iran has expanded dramatically.The group of ship-owners taking crude from Iran has expanded dramatically.

Iran is making rapid forays into the European crude oil market and selling its parcels to countries such as France, Italy, Greece and Spain, UK-based global shipping consultancy, VesselsValue said.

"Following the removal of sanctions, new players have emerged in the mix," VesselsValue said in a report on Thursday, Platts reported.

In 2016, the number of voyages delivering crude from Iran to France is estimated at 21, while Italy, Greece and Spain took 15, 14 and 13 shipments respectively, it said. This includes shipments in very large crude carriers (VLCCs), Suezmaxes and Aframaxes.

In July 2012, the European Union had banned the import of Iranian crude by its member countries and also the provision of EU-linked insurance which included protection and indemnity cover for any shipment of Iranian crude, regardless of destination. The sanctions were eased in January last year.

There has also been a significant change in the geographical mix of owners whose ships were used to carry Iranian crude cargoes.

Prior to the lifting of sanctions, the National Iranian Tanker Company was the largest provider of tonnage to load cargoes from Iran, besides Japanese shipping companies Idemitsu Tanker, JX Ocean and KLine.

--- Dramatic Change

The Iranian ships were provided local insurance cover but there were always concerns over the possibility of any potential liability in event of maritime accidents in waters of importing countries which were permitted to purchase crude from Tehran.

Now, "the group of ship-owners taking crude from Iran has changed dramatically to include those from Greece and Belgium," VesselsValue said. "The influx of owners from Greece has significantly increased the number of Suezmaxes plying on the ex-Iran voyages to 81 last year, compared with 15 in 2015," the report said.

While NITC continues to be the market leader in terms of the number of ships deployed for loading crude from Iran, other companies with ships loading from the country include Dynacom, Delta Tankers, Euronav, Polembros, COSCO, Avin International, Olympic Shipping and Management, New Shipping and Thenamaris, it said.

Last month, two Iranian VLCCs, the Huge and the Snow delivered a mix of the country's heavy and light crude grades to Shell at Rotterdam, according to trade sources.

--- Production

According to Iran's Oil Ministry, the country's crude output is at 3.9 million barrels per day and will reach the 4-million-bpd mark by the end of the fiscal year on March 20.

This will mark the return of Iran's output to levels last seen before 2012, when international sanctions were imposed on the country.

A Platts' survey released February 6 estimated Iranian production at 3.72 million bpd in January, up 30,000 bpd from December.

While cuts in crude production have been initiated under an OPEC-led agreement, Iran is allowed to boost its output to 3.8 million bpd. If this fructifies, Iran's output would exceed its OPEC quota by more than 100,000 b/d.

This is expected to translate into more crude shipments from Iran. According to VesselsValue, seaborne exports of Iranian crude are rising significantly.

The number of oil consignments from Iran increased to 563 last year, up from 66 in 2012 and 277 in 2015, VesselsValue's data showed.

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