In a bid to prepare for the lift of economic sanctions placed on the country, Iran has unveiled a $120 billion fleet expansion campaign.
Mohammad Saeidi, Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), said that the company seeks to purchase 579,000 TEU worth of containerships.
Saeidi added that by 2020, all the new vessels will be operational and that the funds for the purchase will be provided from billions of dollars in frozen oil revenues in international banks.
Iran will likely place most of its orders in China, as relations with China and Chinese banks will allow IRSL to place favorable orders at Chinese shipyards.
IRSL’s current fleet includes about 87 ocean-going vessels and an additional 28 vessels under flag of subsidiaries. The company had previously been sanctioned for its role in advancing Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The bold statement of intent to modernise and expand the national fleet primarily through newbuildings will be financed through funds purported to exceed $120bn, currently frozen internationally due to sanctions.
Dr Saeidi’s more detailed vision of Iran’s return to international shipping via a massive fleet modernisation programme builds on a series of often confusing statements issued to the press that simply voiced IRISL’s ambition to “be in the top 10 within five years”.
IRSL also plans to order 14,000 TEU post-Panamax vessels to compete with the industry’s top shipping lines.
IRISL is also discussing the possibility of alliances as part of the planned expansion strategy. Talks are underway with the Shipping Corporation of India regarding the revival of their Irano-Hind joint venture that was wound up in 2013, after 38 years in operation, due to sanctions restrictions on trade.