Iran announced the launching of the first domestically-produced aframax oil tanker on Tuesday, part of its programme to counter US-led Western sanctions which aim to target oil exports and restrict its maritime trade.
The Fars news agency reported that the oil tanker was ordered by Venezuela, Iran’s chief Latin America ally.
“The production of the aframax ship is the first export shipbuilding activity of Iran, and we must continue by attracting more customers,” Fars quoted Mehdi Etesam, managing director of Iran Maritime Industrial Company SADRA, as saying.
The news agency did not say if more Iranian-made aframaxes were under order. The Aframax carries up to 700,000 barrels of oil.
The US Treasury Department imposed additional sanctions on SADRA in March, accusing it of being owned by Khatam al-Anbiya, an engineering company used by the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to fund its operations.
Washington has primarily focused its sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, alleging it of playing a central role in Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, support for terrorism and involvement in serious human rights abuses.
Tehran made an offer to the South Korean government earlier this month that would allow the delivery of oil on Iranian tankers, effectively bypassing the US-led Western sanctions.
Iran is the second-biggest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia and produces about 3.3 million barrels a day. The full implementation of sanctions is likely to remove about 1 million barrels a day.
The EU ban on insurance for ships carrying Iranian oil affects 95% of the world’s tankers because London-based International Group of P&I Clubs, which is adhering to the EU rule, insures them.
Iran’s fleet of around 40 oil tankers, the biggest in the Middle East, is mostly made up of far bigger supertankers bought from foreign shipbuilders and capable of each carrying up to two million barrels of oil.