Iran hunts for more ships to keep its oil flowing
Since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in November, exploratory talks with South Korea for up to 10 new supertankers have stalled and Panama has also removed at least 21 Iranian tankers from its registry forcing Tehran to put the vessels under its own flag, the sources said.
Washington has put restrictions on Iran’s port, energy and shipping sectors but it has given temporary waivers to the country’s eight biggest oil customers, which include China, India and Japan, so they can keep buying Iranian crude.
With oil exports accounting for an estimated 70 percent of Iran’s revenues, maintaining a fleet of enough tankers to store and move that oil is crucial for Tehran.
But potential sellers of vessels are more wary under the new round of sanctions after a Greek network that helped Iran buy tankers under previous restrictions was blacklisted.
“Iran has been looking for ships, but this time round it is going to be harder – there is so much more scrutiny now. It is going to take them longer,” one shipping source said.
Western insurers are steering clear of Iranian vessels and Iran’s attempts to export crude to the U.S.-approved buyers is further complicated by having to put its tankers under its own flag, rather than a third country such as Panama.
If Iran runs into difficulties exporting its oil it could have a significant impact. Besides the importance of oil for its budget, Iran is estimated to produce about 2.8 million barrels a day, more than 9 percent of OPEC’s output.
Read More: Reuters
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