By Mahnaz Abdi

NITC returning to European markets

October 10, 2017

KHARG- Kharg, a strategic island in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, is of high economic significance for the country as it is home to Iran’s biggest oil export terminal, accounting for about 98 percent of the country’s crude exports. The T-Jetty in the southeast of the island can berth VLCCs (very large crude carriers).

HASNA, a VLCC with the capacity of 300,000 DWT (two million barrels of oil), is one of those super tankers carrying Iranian oil from the Kharg terminal. The giant mother ship belongs to the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC). 

While transporting Iranian crude, NITC’s tankers are also chartered out to foreign countries for crude oil transportation based on the existing international freight rates, and supply and demand for tankers.

In a tour of media arranged by NITC to visit HASNA on September 21, Captain Mohammad-Mehdi Dehqani, the master of this VLCC, who has been serving in NITC for 23 years, briefed the journalists and reporters on the super tanker operation and also the changes occurred in their activity after the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which lifted the West-led sanctions against the country in January 2016.

“After the sanctions our tankers resumed shipments to the European markets, as my last trip was from Kharg Island to Europe and then from there to Singapore and China”, Captain Dehqani told the Tehran Times.

Renowned insurances received after JCPOA

Addressing the journalists in the conference room of the tanker, the captain mentioned lack of insurance, because the world’s reputable insurance companies did not work with Iran, and also problems with transfer of money as the main barriers they faced during the sanctions and said that these problems are now removed.

“We have now insurance covers from IGA P&I Clubs and reputable international underwriters who were prevented to work with us prior JCPOA”, he said. 

“We have also reinstated our position with classifications that are members to IACS (International Association Of Classifications Societies). This is a per–requisite for insuring the vessels in IGA Clubs and international insurances market”, he added.

No oil stored at sea

Referring to another fruitful result of the JCPOA, Captain Dehqani said: “During the sanctions when we had the problems of selling crude, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) uses a number of NITC’s tankers to store oil but at the moment there is no oil (stored) at sea.”

HASNA is owned by NITC, and is currently chartered by NIOC for carrying its cargo of fuel oil to Singapore, master of the super tanker explained.

He went on to say that when it comes to fuel oil, the case is somehow different,  because  a customer may purchase the whole cargo of 300,000 tons of crude in a single shipment but fuel oil is a special case.

Recreating trust to take global market

After returning from HASNA to Kharg Island, the journalists listened to the explanations of another NITC’s manager, who answered their questions in the office of NITC on the island. 

Captain Majid Mousavi, the NITC’s deputy director in Kharg operating zone, said: “Our tankers going to Europe in the post-sanction time means that the door is open. At this time we should recreate trust to take the global market.”

“It’s worth noting that notwithstanding the imposed sanctions we have always been able to maintain our fleet vessels at highest  standards which helped us to regain our quality based certificates from internationally recognized institutes who had stopped working with us due to sanction”, he noted.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mousavi said that NITC does not carry just the Iranian cargos; it also carries cargos of other countries, depending on supply and demand of the international tanker market.

“Our contracts are in two forms:  one is time charter in a way that a tanker is chartered out for a specific duration of time for example for one year and the other one is voyage-based in a way that we carry the cargo from one specific point to the other one for a set freight”, he explained.

Ranked 1st in world

NITC is ranked first in the world in terms of the tonnage of its fleet, according to Mousavi.

“We have also three gas carriers and the company plans to increase the number given Iran’s huge production of gas from the South Pars gas field [shared with Qatar in the Persian Gulf]”, he announced.

He put the company’s fleet capacity at 15 million DWT and said that the managing director plans to renovate the fleet in a way that this capacity is preserved.

“NITC, besides its current order book, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO) and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) for a joint venture in shipbuilding. It is expected this JV can develop Iranian shipbuilding industry", the captain informed.  

Tankers traffic in Kharg up 28% in 9 months

Tankers traffic in Kharg has risen 28 percent during the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period of time in 2016, according to Captain Ebrahim Eyshabadi, the NITC’s director in Kharg operating zone.

He said 360 tankers of NITC have berthed in Kharg terminals during the mentioned time span, NITC Public Relations Department reported. 

NITC established its office in Kharg in Iranian calendar year 1364 (March 1985-March 1986) to offer logistic services to its tankers and personnel on this island, Eyshabadi informed. 

He said exporting over 90 percent of the country’s crude oil from Kharg has led to round-the-clock activities on the island so NITC office in Kharg is its most active office in the country. 


PHOTO: A view of HASNA super tanker’s deck. The VLCC with the capacity of 300,000 DWT (two million barrels of oil) belongs to the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).
 

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