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Shipping restrictions end as international sanctions on Iran lifted

Shipping restrictions end as international sanctions on Iran lifted
The much-anticipated lifting of sanctions imposed by the US and EU on Iran was announced at the weekend after nuclear watchdog body IAEA (international Atomic Energy Agency) confirmed that Tehran had taken the steps required to prevent it developing nuclear weapons in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed with western nations last July.

The move means that crude oil from Iran, the world’s fourth largest producer, will once more be freely available on world markets, as opposed to being restricted to certain Asian countries granted a waiver from international sanctions as has been the case for the last few years, Iranian shipping companies such as NITC and IRISL will once again be able to trade freely in international waters.

However, it seems likely that US territorial restrictions that prevented Iranian ships from calling US ports will remain in place, as was the case before the recent tightening of international sanctions that began in 2012.

NITC (formerly National Iranian Tanker Company) has already begun its rehabilitation process, inviting figures from the international shipping world to attend its 60th anniversary celebrations taking place in Tehran this month.

As of mid 2015, NITC’s fleet was believed to include 42 VLCCS, nine suezmax and five aframax tankers totalling some 16m dwt, making it one of the world’s largest. However, any fears of this tonnage suddenly returning to and “swamping” the international tanker market, thereby snuffing out one of the few bright lights in commercial shipping these days, seem alarmist as the NITC fleet is thought to have been fully employed transporting to Asian countries or acting as floating storage for cargoes of Iranian oil belonging to NIOC (Natioanl Iranian Oil Company) these last few years.

Also, a lengthy procedure is now be required for NITC and IRISL ships to re-apply all the internationally recognised norms for insurance, classification, flagging and so forth that they were obliged to circumvent when the US and EU sanctions were first applied.