Iran has completed the construction of the first of several domestically built oil tankers ordered by Venezuela in a US$ 278 contract.
The tanker is built to aframax specifications meaning that it can hold up to 700 000 bbls of oil. The construction of this tanker marks another step in Iran’s ongoing struggle to survive US and EU sanctions by broadening the scope of the national economy and seeking every possible avenue for the sale of its oil.
Mehdi Etsesam, managing director of SADRA (the company that built the vessel), was quoted by Reuters as saying, “The production of the aframax ship is the first export shipbuilding activity of Iran, and we must continue by attracting more customers.”
Iran’s own fleet of tankers is one of the largest in the Middle East with roughly 40 vessels (built by foreign companies) many of which are capable of carrying up to 2 million bbls.
SADRA has been subject to US sanctions since March when ties between the company owners and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps were discovered. Companies working with the Revolutionary Guard come under intense scrutiny because of the Guard’s involvement in Tehran’s missile and nuclear programmes, the alleged support of terrorism and abuse of Human Rights.
The order for tankers by Venezuela comes at a time when relations between Tehran and Caracas are at something of a highpoint. Venezuela’s government frequently takes an anti-US line; a move that is popular in domestic Venezuelan politics.
In a further blow to Iran’s oil export capability, powerful pro-US lobby groups have convinced ship classifiers to cease verifying the safety and environmental standards of Iranian shipping. Without this verification, Iranian vessels will be barred from using international ports.
Edited from various sources by David Bizley
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