Iran reveals major fleet expansion plan
Iran has revealed a massive fleet expansion campaign which it says will help prepare it for an immediate return to the shipping industry after the US-engineered sanctions are lifted.
Mohammad Saeidi, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), says the campaign envisages the purchasing of 579,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu) of containerships, some 2 million deadweight (dwt) of dry bulk vessels and 1.6 million dwt of tankers.
Saeidi said all the new vessels will be operational by 2020 and that the funds for purchasing them will be provided from billions of petrodollars that have been frozen in international banks and are expected to be released once the sanctions are lifted.
He said the IRISL is also discussing the possibility of alliances as part of the planned expansion strategy.
Talks to the same effect are underway with the Shipping Corporation of India regarding the revival of their Irano-Hind joint venture that was wound up in 2013, after 38 years in operation, due to sanctions restrictions on trade.
He said a series of major newbuilding contracts will be signed in a matter of weeks as Iran taps significant funds built up in China, South Korea, Japan and India through trading during sanctions, the Lloyd’s List reported.
Iran will use these funds to place newbuilding orders, predominantly in China, where Saeidi said existing relationships with China and Chinese banks will allow IRISL to place favorable orders at Chinese yards.
South Korean yards are also under consideration as are some secondhand purchases, but the initial focus will be newbuildings in China.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the IRISL chief said his company will be ordering Panamax vessels with a tonnage of 14,000 teu and even 18,000 teu to take on the top players. He said that vessels with a tonnage of 10,000 teu are more likely to be the target, but he also suggested that final decisions will be made in the coming weeks.