EghtesadOnline: Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines’ standing has improved from 21st to 19th in the latest global shipping monitor Alphaliner’s ranking of top 100 containership operators.
According to Alphaliner’s April 4 report, IRISL Group’s 96,383 TEU capacity places it between Hong Kong-based shipping line of SITC (104.71 TEU) and Turkey’s Arkas line/EMES (72,717 TEU).
IRISL operates 46 vessels and has an order book for four new ships totaling 58,000 TEU, according to Alphaliner’s report.
The four new container vessels are part of IRISL’s order from the world’s largest shipbuilding company headquartered in Ulsan, South Korea Hyundai Heavy Industries, according to Financial Tribune.
In December 2016, IRISL signed its first post-sanctions shipbuilding deal worth $650 million with HHI, based on which the South Korean heavyweight will build four 14,500 TEU container ships as well as six 49,000 DWT tankers with the funds provided by South Korean banks and financial institutions.
The deal was part of plans by IRISL and Iranian Offshore Oil Company, a subsidiary of state oil company National Iranian Oil Company, to spend a total of up to $2.5 billion to modernize the country’s fleet.
Iranian shipping companies have not modernized their fleets since 2006, when the United Nations imposed wide-ranging sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program. IRISL was removed from the sanctions blacklist in 2016 and, after years of isolation, aims to raise funds to modernize its fleet.
The sanctions began to be gradually rolled back in January after Tehran agreed to limit the scope of the program. But the Iranian companies are still struggling with their limited capability to raise financing in US dollars, the main currency in shipping, and intend to secure financing from Chinese banks by offering Beijing oil in return for loan guarantees.
Ports and Maritime Organization’s CEO Mohammad Saeednejad said 17 major global shipping lines have resumed services to Iran since the removal of nuclear sanctions.
“As a result of the nuclear deal, Iran’s marine activities are now back to normal,” the official was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s second-largest shipping line in terms of container vessel capacity, and Evergreen Line are among the top shipping lines that have resumed cooperation with Iranian ports.
France’s CMA CGM, the world’s third largest container shipping group, also called at Shahid Rajaei, Iran’s biggest container port at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, early August. The company teamed up with Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines to share vessel capacity and jointly operate routes and marine container terminals.
Most recently, Maersk Line expanded its footprint in Iran by adding a second port of call less than three months after it resumed services to the country following the lifting of sanctions. The Danish carrier, which suspended services in 2012, has added the port of Bushehr to its Iran coverage. Its service was relaunched with calls to Bandar Abbas in October.
With almost 90% of Iran’s foreign trade taking place through its territorial waters, Iran’s ports (of which there are 11 primary ones) are especially important. IRISL is the primary domestic player in this area.
Following the adoption of JCPOA, IRISL has announced its intention to become one of the world’s top 10 shipping lines by 2020.
Top three largest container ship and supply vessel operators are APM-Maersk Line with 763 vessels and a capacity of 4,150,731 TEU, Mediterranean Shipping Company with 514 vessels and a capacity of 3,228,611 TEU and CMA CGM Group with 498 ships and a capacity of 2,527,286 TEU.