By SARAH KENT
LONDON -- Iran is building up its shipping fleet in a bid to
maintain oil exports as its customers dwindle amid tight
international sanctions against the country, the International
Energy Agency said.
The Islamic republic has struggled to sell its crude oil as
a result of sanctions imposed by the US, United Nations and the
European Union, which accuse Tehran
of developing a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a
civilian nuclear program.
"Expanding the shipping fleet should provide the state oil
company more flexibility in marketing its crude and for use in
floating storage," the IEA said.
Iran has added seven new Very Large Crude Carriers to its
fleet since the beginning of the year, including four in the
last four months, the agency said. National Iranian Tanker
Co.'s fleet now numbers 37 VLCCs, with a total capacity of 64
million bbl, and 14 smaller tankers, with a capacity of 12.5
At the end of July, Iran's oil in floating storage stood at
30 million bbl, unchanged from June, it said.
Iran produced 2.65 million bpd of oil in July, compared with
output of 3.5 million bpd in December 2011 before strict
sanctions on oil exports were imposed.
While preliminary data show the country's oil exports rose
to 1.16 million bpd in July from 960,000 bpd in June, Iran
supplied oil to just five customers -- China, Japan, South
Korea, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, the IEA said.
Although India has imported on average
200,000 bpd from Iran this year, preliminary data for July show
the country imported nothing last month as companies faced
difficulty securing insurance for shipping and refining operations, the IEA
The election of moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani to the
Iranian presidency in June could, however, bring about a thaw
in relations with the West even as the US pushes for tougher
sanctions. While campaigning, Mr. Rowhani promised to move to
ease the sanctions, and he has since struck a conciliatory
tone, calling for "serious" negotiations on Iran's nuclear
Dow Jones Newswires