China’s tanker owners are avoiding Iranian oil because carrying the sanctioned goods could put at risk contracts to carry US oil such as Texas shale, reports Bloomberg. Iran had been using its National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) tankers to supply customers in China.
All 17 ships used to carry oil from Iran to China in July and August were owned by NITC, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
In the previous three months, almost half the vessels that made the journey were owned by companies in China.
While Iran’s fleet of very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, and Suezmax tankers had always played an important role in delivering Iranian crude to customers, that role was increasing as insurers and international shipping companies took note of the impact of the re-imposed US sanctions.
The Chinese government appeared less concerned. It is Iran’s biggest customer and was reported to have rejected a US request to halt purchases from Iran.
Oil tanker owners were reported to fear being cut off from the booming business of transporting crude pumped from shale fields in Texas or wells in the Gulf of Mexico.