Iran in talks to build LNG tankers
Iran is in talks with France, Germany and Belgium for construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers, head of the country's tanker company says, IRNA reported.
Shipping is a driver of Iran's foreign trade but the sector was the first to come under US-led sanctions. An imminent lifting of the sanctions is expected to put the country back on the map of international maritime business.
Managing Director of the National Iranian Tanker Company Ali Akbar Safa'ee said Wednesday sanctions on the sector, including indemnity and insurance coverage, will be immediately removed when a nuclear accords goes into effect.
"The nuclear negotiating team had a great sensitivity toward maritime and tanker issues," he said.
"The removal of the sanctions will provide good conditions for Iranian oil tankers, allowing them to expand their operations in Europe," Safa'ee added.
Iran owns the world's largest fleet of oil supertankers consisting of 42 VLCCs (very large crude carriers), each able to carry 2 million barrels of oil.
The country has also a sprawling shipbuilding industry chiefly devoted to constructing oil tankers and container ships and other maritime structures.
For high-technology vessels used for LNG, FLNG (floating LNG) and FPSO (floating production storage and offloading), the country is in negotiations with German, French and Belgian companies, Safa'ee said.
"These negotiations are currently underway but have not been finalized yet. But the National Iranian Tanker Company is planning to enter this market," he said.
LNG tankers are special carriers which super-cool the gas to minus 162 degrees Celsius for long-haul shipments.
Iran possesses the world's largest proven gas reserves, with a potential to become a top producer. The country plans to build a capacity to export 40 million metric tons of LNG a year.