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NITC to place new tankers under Cyprus flag

Limassol: A surprise guest at this week's Maritime Cyprus conference was Mohammad Souri, chairman of independent Iranian tanker company NITC, who was visiting the island to meet Cyprus flag officials. Other VIP attendees at the event included EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot and IMO secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos.  

Speaking to Seatrade en route to Cyprus, Souri disclosed that the first of a series of new tankers delivering from Korea, a 317,000dwt VLCC being handed over by Hyundai Heavy Industries in mid-October, would sail under the Cyprus Register, the first time NITC has flown an EU flag. Later ships might follow suit, he added.

"NITC has been a private company since 2000 and today 80% of its business is cross trading carried out for multinational oil majors," he said. "During the last 15 years our fleet has NEVER had a single Port State Control detention, accident resulting in oil pollution or failed an oil major vetting."

"The Cyprus flag has much improved in recent years and is now on the 'White List' of both the Paris and Tokyo MOUs. We are confident that the flag will continue to move forward in quality, fully in line with EU and IMO policy."

The placing of any significant number of new NITC tankers under the Cyprus flag, which currently totals 21m grt, would increase the size of the Cyprus flag fleet considerably, as well as bring down its average vessel age. Cyprus has the third largest flag fleet in the EU, behind Greece and Malta. In addition, NITC could be expected to add weight to calls for an early resolution of the de facto Turkish ban on Cyprus-linked vessels calling its ports, an issue Commissioner Barrot pledged at the conference to try and resolve.  [28/09/07]

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