EghtesadOnline: Iran's state tanker company NITC and the national shipping line IRISL plan to form a joint venture in collaboration with the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization to renovate one of the world's largest fleet of crude oil carriers, an NITC official said on Monday.
"The modernization of NITC's tanker fleet is underway as part of the company's core strategy," said Majid Mousavi, deputy director of NITC's operations at Kharg, an island in the Persian Gulf from which more than 90% of Iran's oil exports are shipped.
NITC operates some 70 tankers and vessels of all sizes with a capacity of around 15 million deadweight tonnage, one of the world's largest tanker fleet in terms of the number of ships and capacity, ISNA reported.
The company now looks to reduce the average age of its fleet from 10 years old in collaboration with domestic partners, Financial Tribune reported.
"NITC has signed an agreement to form a joint venture with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and with IDRO to form a joint company to renovate [NITC's] tanker fleet and boost domestic shipbuilding and repair industry," Mousavi said.
He added that the renovation program will not affect NITC's transport capacity.
NITC also operates three liquefied natural gas carriers, but the number of such ships will increase once a string of planned LNG projects take off. Iran exports its natural gas via pipelines because of its lack of infrastructure to liquefy gas for export via tankers.
Plan to renovate Iranian tankers started to take shape following Tehran's nuclear deal with the world powers in mid-2015, which led to the lifting of an array of sanctions, including restrictions on the passage of Iranian tankers in international waters and ports, in the following year.
Prior to sanctions, only about 15% of the company’s fleet were involved in domestic trade, with 85% trading internationally.
Under international restrictions imposed over the nuclear dispute, NITC-owned tankers were not allowed to sail to Europe. According to reports, Iran had to change the flag and the names of its tankers to avoid EU restrictions.
NITC is in parallel talks with foreign companies on adding new vessels to its large fleet.
Sirous Kianeri, the company's CEO, said in an interview this year that it is "the best time to renew the fleet" as prices for building new ships are at their lowest.
According to data, NITC received its newest Very Large Crude Carrier from Dalian Shipyard in China in 2013.
The company's top priority is transportation of Iranian crude oil. However, it does not stop there to make profit.
Mousavi pointed to the increasing number of NITC's tanker-leasing deals with foreign customers and said, "Leasing prices depend on global rates and the market. We'd naturally make more profit if we lease more tankers."
By the middle of 2017, NITC had signed more than 70 contracts to lease vessels to international customers since the lifting of sanctions, the company's data show.