EghtesadOnline: The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines’ global ranking based on the capacity of freight handling improved from 23rd in fiscal 2015-16 to 13th last year (March 2018-19), IRIB News quoted IRISL Managing Director Mohammad Saeedi as saying.
According to global shipping monitor Alphaliner, the IRISL Group’s 154,415 TEU capacity places it between Taiwan-based shipping line Wan Hai Lines with 248,890 TEU and South Korea’s KMTC with 153,963 TEU.
IRISL operates 46 vessels and four chartered ones. Its owned and chartered capacities stand at 96,383 TEU and 58,032 TEU, respectively while its global market share comprises 0.7%.
The top three shipping companies in the world, according to Alphaliner, are Danish APM-Maersk with 4,100,519 TEU and global market share of 17.9%, the Swiss Geneva-headquartered Mediterranean Shg Co with 3,370,247 TEU and global market share of 14.7%, and China’s COSCO Group with 2,804,882 TEU and global market share of 12.3%, Financial Tribune reported.
Impact of Sanctions
IRISL has been severely hit by prolonged anti-Iran nuclear sanctions. The lifting of sanctions, following the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015 initially paved the way for IRISL’s resurgence and cooperation with international companies.
IRISL’s container carrier Azargoun called at Belgium’s Antwerp Port in March 2017 for the first time in almost half a decade after calling at the port of Hamburg. The Iranian ship moored at Deurganck dock after departing from Germany’s Hamburg.
The previous time IRISL had made port calls to Europe was in 2010 through its subsidiary Hafiz Darya Shipping Company, or HDS Lines.
Iranian port activities, which account for a considerable portion of Iran’s foreign trade, increased considerably after Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
International shipping lines increasingly sent their vessels to Iranian destinations that were previously blacklisted by sanctions.
According to Ports and Maritime Organization’s CEO Mohammad Saeednejad, 17 global shipping lines resumed services to Iran since the removal of nuclear sanctions.
Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s second-largest shipping line in terms of container vessel capacity, and Evergreen Line were among top shipping lines that resumed cooperation with Iranian ports.
France’s CMA CGM, the world’s third largest container shipping group, called at Shahid Rajaee, Iran’s biggest container port at the mouth of Strait of Hormuz, in August 2016. The company teamed up with IRISL to share vessel capacity and jointly operate routes and marine container terminals. It launched a Tehran office in 2017, appointing CMA CGM Pars as its new agency in Iran as of May 1.
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, added the port of Bushehr to its Iran portfolio in 2017. Its service was relaunched with calls to Bandar Abbas in October last year.
After the US withdrawal from JCPOA last year, however, most of the above-mentioned carriers decided to put an end to services in Iran.
CMA CGM chief executive announced in July that it had decided to pull out of Iran following the US administration’s decision to renew sanctions on companies operating in the country.
“Due to the Trump administration, we have decided to end our service for Iran,” CMA CGM chief, Rodolphe Saade, was quoted as saying.
He added that his company’s cooperation agreement with local Iranian partner Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines had been suspended and that the company did not want to fall foul of the rules, given their large presence in the United States.
“We will not lift any cargo from Iran with immediate effect,” a source at Torm told S&P Global Platts.
Maersk Tankers also said the company’s fleet was staying away from Iranian ports.
“Everything is on hold now, except for the usual Chinese and Greek owners,” a clean oil tankers’ broker in Singapore said in May last year.
“The sanctions have a capacity to disrupt the entire chain of maritime insurance involving shipments into and out of Iran,” a Singapore-based maritime broker said on the sidelines of the WISTA Shipping Conference held in the island city-state.
“There is a whole chain of people who are involved in providing an insurance cover and the US decision will cause major headaches to all of them because the processing is now to be done in such a way, which is not in contravention of the new sanctions regime,” the broker said.
Maritime transportation accounts for 85% of Iran’s foreign trade. Imam Khomeini and Shahid Rajaee ports in southern Iran account for 80% of the total throughput of Iranian ports.
According to Hamzeh Keshavarz, director general of Container Transportation Company—an IRISL division, the maritime fleet of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines handles half of the cargo container throughput in the country.