The upcoming issue of Tanker Shipping & Trade carries a first-hand account of the 60th Anniversary of National Iranian Tanker Company, an occasion that coincided with the lifting of United Nations sanctions and most European restrictions on doing business with Iran, including an embargo on oil imports.
Riaz Khan, president and chief executive of consultants Tavlon Commercial Enterprise had a ringside seat. His account makes for compelling reading. Mr Khan reports that at the meeting a Chinese Bank voiced interest in a US$5 billion investment to expand Iran's tanker fleet.
“The Chinese were present in large numbers,” says Mr Khan. “The Chairman of Guangdong JOVO Group, a trader of LNG stated in the local press, that his company wants to establish a joint venture with NITC to produce LNG floating production facilities because the JOVO Group wants to buy the output from the joint project, which will secure their LNG procurement needs.”
As well as the bigger picture relating to Iranian oil and gas reserves and grand ambitions now it is back in the international fold, smaller detail was not neglected. One notable point of interest, says Mr Khan, is the impending reactivation of the SWIFT system (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) to facilitate transfer of funds. “Along with this reactivation, hopefully the need to carry large amounts of cash may not be needed in the future with international credit cards once again coming back into use.”
For all the enthusiasm an important note of caution has been sounded by lawyer Jasamin Fichte of Fichte & Co Legal Consultancy.
Ms Fichte, a lawyer with extensive experience in doing business with the Iranian maritime community, says that while Iranian owned and controlled vessels will now be available to charter to the international community, “it is likely the vessels may well be underinsured, certainly in comparison to International tonnage, as they will continue to be insured by the Iranian domestic insurance market.”
She adds that amid the euphoria of the return of a large potential market, it should also be borne in mind that “not all sanctions against Iran have been lifted and therefore careful measures and considerations should still be taken with regards to transactions with Iran.”