The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) expects to become the third-largest
oil-tanker company by 2013, and possibly the second-biggest, when it takes
delivery of 22 very large crude carriers and expands its fleet by 72 percent, an
"NITC is not hindered by economic sanctions on Iran," Area Manager Capt. Rahmat
Ghareh told reporters Monday in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
The company continues to carry crude produced by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total
SA, in addition to oil from Saudi Aramco and state-run producers in Kuwait and
Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E. capital. "We have not faced any problem," Ghareh said.
The Iranian operator expects by 2013 to have 74 ships of all sizes, including
very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, and also smaller vessels, he said. NITC
will operate 50 VLCCs at that time, up from 28 today. It now ranks as the
fifth-biggest tanker operator worldwide, with a total of 43 ships, he said.
NITC manages five of its vessels from its offices in Sharjah and uses a branch
of Bank Saderat Iran for financial transactions in the United Arab Emirates,
NITC is not using its vessels to store oil in the hope of profiting from a
further increase in prices, he said. "We are a transport company,' he said. "We
don't do trading."
NITC plans to buy liquefied natural gas carriers when Iran starts producing LNG,
Iran has the world's second-biggest gas reserves after Russia, according to data
from BP Plc.
NITC would eventually need to order 83 LNG tankers, based on Iran's production
plans for the fuel. Iran doesn't yet produce LNG, which is gas chilled into
liquid form for easy transportation by ship. The company would eventually
consider ordering these tankers from South Korean shipyards, Ghareh said.
Like many other shipping lines in the Middle East, NITC has from piracy, with
its tankers coming under attack 16 times so far, the company's Technical Manager
Anwar Lodhi said.
"Our view is that the ships should be allowed to carry weapons" to defend
against pirates, Lodhi told reporters. NITC's tankers "carry guards sometimes,
but they are not armed," he said.
NITC is owned by funds managing pensions for 5 million Iranians, according to an
advertisement that the company posted in September in the shipping industry
newspaper Tradewinds, in response to an EU decision to ban the provision of
insurance to companies incorporated in Iran.
The advertisement said the shipping line doesn't carry materials linked to
nuclear proliferation, nor does it import oil products into Iran or transfer
technology related to oil exploration, refining or liquefied natural gas.
NITC's ships carried 104 million metric tons of crude last year, 51 percent of
which went to Europe, according to the advertisement.