Iran Plans First Domestically-built Dual-Fuel LNG Aframax Tanker

Iran plans to build LNG Aframax crude oil tanker
Undated photo showing tankers at the IZPOCO shipyard (IZPOCO)

Published Mar 15, 2022 7:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

Iran’s national oil company and shipyard company are reporting that they plan to build the country’s first dual-fuel LNG Aframax tanker as part of a domestic effort to repair and expand the country’s aging fleet of crude oil tankers. News of the agreement for the tanker fleet comes as Iran’s political leadership is pushing for a lifting of western sanctions against the oil industry while also boasting that sanctions imposed by the United States have not impeded their operations.

Iran's oil minister was quoted in the local media as saying that despite the United States’ efforts to stop oil shipments the country has continued to build its oil exports. He also pointed to U.S. efforts to go after both Iranian ships as well as third party tankers contracted to transport oil often through illegal ship-to-ship transfers and nefarious efforts such as repeatedly trading ships and disguising their identities or turning off AIS signals. 

Last week, Associated Press reported, “The U.S. has quietly seized the cargo of two tankers suspected of transporting Iranian oil as part of an elaborate sanctions-busting scheme involving forged documents and the repainting of a ship’s deck to cloak illegal shipments.” They said the seizures undertaken by the Biden Administration were revealed in court documents last month.

The National Iranian Oil Tanker Company (NITC), possibly in anticipation that the sanctions might be lifted to relieve pressures after the banning of Russian oil, announced its plans to revitalize its fleet. As part of the country’s efforts to expand its domestic industries, the oil company said it plans to both build and repair its tankers at Iranian shipyards. If the construction proceeds, it would be the first newly built tanker for NITC in more than a decade.

“The order to build an Aframax tanker to the Iranian Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries Complex (IZOICO) in Bandar Abbas is on the agenda and its contract will be signed soon,” the company said in a statement widely reported in the Iranian media. The CEO of the National Iranian Tanker Company was quoted as saying, "This Aframax tanker, which is environmentally friendly and is designed and built according to the latest standards of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), will comply with phase three of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI)."

The capacity of the new tanker reportedly would be 113,000 tons. He said propulsion would be LNG-fueled with dual-fuel capabilities to also use low sulfur fuel. It is unclear, however, if Iran currently has the capability to build the engines for the vessel or if it would be dependent on an international partnership. The country’s commercial shipbuilding industry was idled for many years until 2018 when they announced they would restart new ship construction. In December 2020, Iranian news agencies released photos of a reported launch ceremony for what was reported to be the first new tanker built for an international customer.

NITC also said that it would be seeking to repair its current fleet of tankers inside the country. The company said it has already sent 24 of its vessels for repairs citing that it was also supporting industries including paint and chemicals used in the ship repairs.