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EghtesadOnline: The National Iranian Tanker Company has signed more than 70 contracts to lease vessels to international customers since the lifting of international economic sanctions last year, NITC chief Sirous Kianersi said.

"Most of the deals have been signed with European and Asian companies," Kianersi was cited as saying by Shana. "Our tankers are now transporting crude oil for some Italian and Spanish companies. We are also in negotiations with a Polish company," he said Tuesday.

The increasing number of leasing contracts, which has more than doubled from the beginning of the year, indicates NITC forward march in expanding its presence in international waters.

Italian oil majors Eni and Saras and Spanish refiner Cepsa are among European buyers of crude oil from Iran alongside Royal Dutch Shell, Total S.A., Hungary’s MOL and Turkey's Tupras, according to Financial Tribune.

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.

Despite the easing of restrictions last year, it was not until early 2017 that the first Iranian tankers entered Europe. Two large crude carriers operated by the NITC, named Snow and Huge, loaded oil from the Kharg Oil Terminal in the Persian Gulf for the storage and trading port of Rotterdam in January.

Having one of the world's largest fleet of petroleum tankers ahead of regional rival Saudi Arabia as well as Qatar, Oman and the UAE, the state-owned shipping company is unlikely to expand its fleet any time soon. "There is no plan to add new ships to our fleet," Kianersi said.

Iran has 42 very large crude carriers (VLCCs), nine Suezmaxes, five Aframaxes and several other ships with a total deadweight capacity of over 15 million tons.

Kianersi said the sanctions removal, which took place in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear activities last year, had tangible implications for his company.

"Iranian tankers now freely roam international waters. Restrictions related to insurance and classification of our ships are a thing of the past."

NITC Iran oil tankers Sirous Kianersi Iran sanctions relief Iran Tanker Leasing