On Monday, less than 48 hours after the lifting of nuclear sanctions, National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) managing director Ali-Akbar Safaei told Iranian state media that the first of the firm's tankers had sailed from Iran under insurance provided by Lloyd's.
“Removal of sanctions had their first effect on the Iranian tankers,” he said.
Some analysts have predicted that third party insurance for Iranian oil shipments will be hard to obtain, but Safaei says that Lloyd’s is interested in providing continued coverage.
Safaei had told the Wall Street Journal in July of 2015 that he was in talks with the International Group of P&I clubs.
Separately, Safaei told Iran’s IRNA news service that NITC’s tankers had secured classification from Lloyd’s. “Iranian oil tankers will sail as of today under the class of the Lloyd’s international classification institution,” he said.
With insurance and classification obtained, NITC may be poised to benefit most from an increase in exports. Many industry sources say that foreign oil tanker owners will make a slow return to Iran, leaving NITC the sole provider of crude shipping. Despite the lifting of some sanctions this past weekend, others are still in place, and these exclude U.S. persons, banks and insurers from trading with Iran. And oil buyers, insurers and shipowners around the world remain wary, analysts say.
“The initial oil sales will be the oil currently stored on [Iranian] ships in the Persian Gulf," said Paddy Rodgers, chief executive of oil tanker company Euronav. "It will take time for this increase in production to be transported on the commercial tanker fleet given the financial sanctions still in place and reluctance of insurance providers to cover given the snap back provisions in the P5+1 agreement." “Snap back” refers to sudden re-imposition of sanctions if Iran does not follow through.
"So, any additional increase in Iranian barrels being produced will be shipped on Iranian vessels."
NITC already owns over 60 vessels, and has the largest fleet of VLCCs in the world – and it appears prepared to build yet more.
This past weekend, Safaei announced that a Chinese bank plans to extend a multi-billion dollar line of credit for the use of Iran Shipping Lines and NITC. Safei added that Iran will be a “driving force” in maritime transportation.
Safei made these comments at an NITC conference in Tehran for foreign shipping firms, classification societies, insurers, shipbrokers and others. Attendees included representatives of Varada Ship Management, insurer The Standard Club, Lemissoler Navigation, and DNV GL, among others.