Iranian Supertanker Fleet Seen Expanding Fleet Amid Sanctions

mt seeb vlcc nitc
M/T Seeb, a NITC-owned VLCC

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) — NITC, Iran’s biggest tanker company, increased the capacity of its supertanker fleet by 23 percent this year amid sanctions related to the nation’s nuclear program that bar most of the world’s ships from carrying the nation’s crude, according to IHS Maritime.

The Tehran-based company added seven new very large crude carriers, each able to transport 2 million barrels of oil, according to data from the Coulsdon, England-based research company, which provides information for the United Nations’ shipping agency. NITC has 37 supertankers and its entire fleet can hold about 86 million barrels of oil, equal to 65 days of the nation’s exports, IHS data show.

European Union sanctions that started in July 2012 prevent most non-Iranian tankers from hauling the country’s crude because almost all ships are insured under the 28-nation bloc’s laws. The U.S. and EU say Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons while the government in Tehran says it is for civilian purposes.

Iran didn’t add to its fleet of smaller Suezmax or Aframax vessels this year, according to IHS data. Ali-Akbar Safaei, NITC’s chairman, wasn’t available for comment, according to a person answering the phone at the company’s offices in Tehran yesterday. Later calls weren’t answered and NITC’s website doesn’t give an e-mail address.

Iran’s exports fell 48 percent to 66 million metric tons last year, reducing revenue by 38 percent to $52.7 billion, according to data from the International Trade Centre, an agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

– Rob Sheridan, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.