Iran’s Oil Ships Sail Into Troubled Waters

Iran, already braced for escalating sanctions in coming days, is facing another challenge to ship its oil that could ultimately curtail its crude sales more than expected.

Under pressure from lobbying groups campaigning against Iran’s nuclear program, some specialized companies that supply the safety certificates required for ships to dock at foreign ports are terminating their dealings with Iran. Tankers from Iran and elsewhere can’t sail without a stamp of approval from these “classification societies,” which survey the vessels to ensure they are safe and environmentally sound.

One by one over the last few months, European classification societies such as Norway’s Det Norske Veritas, the U.K.’s Lloyd’s Register and France’s Bureau Veritas have terminated contracts to survey Iranian ships, including ships for the country’s largest tanker company, NITC.

“Without the correct certificates in place…it may be impossible to gain access to an international port,” said Peter Sand, chief analyst at international shipping association Bimco.

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