Leading shipping lines declining to make future Iran commitments

Switzerland-based container shipping line MSC will stop taking new bookings for Iran due to the decision by the US to re-impose sanctions on Tehran after withdrawing from the JCPOA international nuclear deal, the company said on Wednesday May 16th.

In a note to clients MSC said that it was “ceasing to provide access to services to and from Iran”, while promising that it would “conclude this period with the minimum disruption” to their customers’ business.

“While MSC is not accepting bookings for shipments originating from Iran, or destined to Iran, we will continue to carry certain legally acceptable cargoes during the wind-down period, notably for importation of foodstuffs,” MSC said in its note.

Iran’s port operators and shipping sectors, including top cargo operator the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and oil tanker group NITC, will be re-blacklisted by the US from November 4th.

Meanwhile, Denmark-based oil product tanker operator Maersk Tankers said also said on Wednesday that it would be winding down its customer agreements in Iran by November 4th.

“We will perform customer agreements entered into before May 8th and ensure that they are wound down by November 4th, as required by the re-imposed U.S. sanctions,” the company said, adding that it was closely monitoring developments and assessing the potential impact on our activities while staying in dialogue with our customers to inform them in case of changes”.

Maersk Tankers operates 161 product tanker vessels worldwide.

Both MSC and Maersk have served Iran via third-party feeder ships from transhipment hubs in Jebel Ali in the UAE.

Danish oil product tanker operator Torm said on May 15th that it had stopped taking new orders in Iran.