NITC News & Articles
Corporate viewpoint: NITC Tankers
Reprinted from The Baltic Summer 2011:
Much has been written of the Iranian shipping company NITC. Some of the more realistic and committed issues have been given little emphasis. Issues of sanctions have of course created an issue, but NITC has overcome this challenge and now boasts P & I cover and Hull and Machinery insurance for all vessels. P&I arrangements are in place for all ships trading in its international fleet, with up to $1bn of pollution cover for any possible incident.
Operating one of the world's largest fleet of modern and environmentally friendly tankers seems natural to NITC boss, Chairman Mohammad Souri, a veteran board member at Steamship Mutual for 27 years. The company is also a full member of Intertanko and the International Transport Workers Federation to name but two organisations.
NITC is 100% privately owned, respects all international conventions and has never been engaged in any activity prohibited by the US, United Nations or European Union. “It upholds the highest operational standards and remains a reliable business partner in all matters,” Mr Souri has said.
The company also has been recognised both internationally for its environmental efforts, committing to cut fleet emissions by 28% The company also enjoys an exemplary record in matters of safety and quality being detention and pollution accident free for the last 15 years, and is up for an environmental award at Nor- Shipping.
NITC has undergone something of a rebranding exercise in recent times, not least in the use of the new logo, which distances it from a publically-run operation. The company has emphasised its commitment to transparency as far as its operations are concerned. So does Mr Souri feel that this has created a greater level of transparency and how does he think charterers consider the company's operations?
“Due to its good career and commitment to the needs of global oil major clients, integrity of technical operations, total respect for the environment and continuous education of seafarers, NITC is globally recognised as a brand, and recent changes in its flag or logo do not make any changes in its essence,” he says.
So what are the main messages he wants to get across about the company? “We are at the service of world energy and we consider ourselves the most reliable business partner; we work hard and spare no efforts to become the topmost tanker operator worldwide”. Market analysts like Platou have recently been quoted as saying that the amount of Iranian oil held in floating storage facilities was something of a wild card when considering how freight rates would develop – most notably in the second quarter of the year. Are payments being affected by the sanctions?
“It is the usual practice of all oil producing countries like Iran to overhaul refineries in summer time and thus they would have some excess oil which has been kept as storage for a certain period of time. The process of blending light oil with heavy crude can be another reason for storage tanks to be used accordingly”.
DVB Bank has recently issued comments on falling prices for VLCCs in the second market, but Mr Souri is upbeat about the outlook.
“The falling price for VLCCs in the secondhand market is the result of gloomy seaborne trade and to my experience this situation cannot last long, and the market will be stabilised and rebalanced within the next two years,” he predicts.
As the scourge of piracy continues, and ransoms have been paid without the release of crew members, attitudes have been changing, not least about arming vessels or taking vessels into the danger zone in the first place.
“The piracy situation in the Gulf of Aden region is deteriorating day by day. NITC has so far faced 36 attempts on its fleet and although we continue to seek safe solutions to hinder pirate attacks, unfortunately no effective solution has been found yet and the golden age of pirates is realised by increasing ransoms, as well as more modern piracy equipment. However, NITC sticks to IMO rules and regulations; we are still crossing our fingers and hoping some preventive measures will be adopted.”
As far as the company's newbuild programme is concerned, the question remains whether China is a more favourable option to South Korea because of the attitude to sanctions or the availability of bank finance.
According to Mr Souri: “Nowadays, ships built in China can be compared with Korean vessels. China shipyards show more flexibility towards hi-tech specifications and the owner can enjoy very good support from Chinese banks to finance vessels built in China”.
The outlook may seem downbeat as far as freight rates are concerned, but Mr Souri remains upbeat.
“In spite of the gloomy seaborne trade market, I am optimistic about the future. I strongly believe that the second decade of this century will be a milestone for the change of oil transportation routes and the reduction of oil exporting countries. The increasing world population and energy demand are other influential factors.”
In terms of growing the fleet, Mr Souri says this will depend on the foreseeable demand for oil, especially in the Persian Gulf region, as well as South Pars oil and gas projects. “We certainly need to organise a new LNG carrier fleet and also a new fleet for chemical tankers so as to serve the needs of our country, as well as increasing world demand.”
So what is the main message he wants to get across to those with whom he does business? “NITC, as a leading oil shipping company, is proud of being committed to quality and safety, and is ready to extend hands to all partners in all fields of oil, gas and chemical shipping. We are open to cooperating and sharing views with new partners, to strengthen the campaign against pirates of Somalia who have become a critical nightmare for the whole seaborne trade.”