ShippingWatch

Stena Bulk wants in on Iranian oil adventure

The race to enter the Iranian market is getting more intense. In the middle of January, Erik Hånell, CEO of Stena Bulk, will travel to Iran to revive old contacts in Iran and hopefully make new ones, he tells ShippingWatch.

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The major Swedish shipping group, Stena, also wants a stake in the Iranian market which is expected to bloom when the sanctions against the country are lifted. Soon, Erik Hånell, CEO of the group's tanker carrier Stena Bulk, will travel to Iran like many competitors, to get the lay of the land for future businesses.

"It is interesting to see what will happen now in Iran and everybody is waiting for the sanctions to be lifted. What exactly this will mean for shipping - for the sectors crude oil, chemical and CPP (product tanker) - is hard to predict, but there will be some sort of change when it happens," he says to ShippingWatch and adds:

"We think it is important to be there, get a first look and re-establish the contacts we had before the sanctions."

Before the sanctions against Iran began back in 2011, Stena Bulk played a part in the transport of crude oil and according to Hånell, the carrier had quite a lot of Iranian crude oil on the books in the 1990s. Since then, the carrier has left the VLCC sector. The carrier currently operates a fleet including 20 Suezmax vessels in the pool Stena Sonangol, a partnership with the state-owned oil company Sonangol in Angola. And it is with the Suezmax segment, that Stena Bulk holds its stake in the larger sector of tanker, Hånell highlights, who will not completely rule out, however, a possible return to the large VLCC tankers, which in the last six months generated sky-high rates in the tanker sector.

"If we find an opportunity, we will not hesitate to do it, but our current focus is Suezmax, and that is where our ambition is. But we are always open to new ideas."

Maersk waits while competitors are in full swing in Iran

To begin with, Erik Hånell will be in Iran for a just few days and meet with oil companies among others.

"To a large extent, this is about re-establishing old contacts, but also about making new ones. It is not a long trip, but hopefully it will lead to more trips down there."

A Danish delegation headed by the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kristian Jensen, recently visited Iran where a long line of companies including Lauritzen Kosan, Maersk and Evergas participated. This led to the following comment from Maersk's headquarters:

"We can confirm that we've met with representatives of the Iranian government to discuss possible projets. Nothing has been arranged, and we cannot share further details. We respect the international sanctions, and any decision to engage in energy or transport businesses in Iran have to wait for when the sanctions are lifted," wrote the Maersk Group in a written comment to Ritzau Finans last week.

Meanwhile, the second largest container carrier in the world, MSC, has been much more quick from the start and recently started regular calls at ports in Iran.

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