Bloomberg News

Iran Tanker Data Yet to Show Strategic Storage Shift, ICAP Says

January 12, 2012

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Iran’s increased storage of oil at sea has yet to indicate the Islamic republic is stockpiling the commodity on tankers amid tension with the West, according to ICAP Shipping International Ltd.

NITC Co., Iran’s tanker company, had nine so-called very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, shuttling or storing about 18 million barrels of crude at the end of last week, according to data e-mailed today by ICAP, which tracks storage at sea. That compares with six on Dec. 23 and is 50 percent fewer than the year-earlier figure. The number has risen or fallen by at least 20 percent in 15 of the past 20 weeks, ICAP’s data show.

Europe Union officials will meet Jan. 23 to discuss a ban on crude imports from Iran. The Persian Gulf state has responded by threatening to halt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for about 20 percent of crude traded globally.

“We would not suggest Iranian storage is on the rise yet and it may not,” Simon Newman, an oil-shipping analyst at ICAP, said. “The numbers rise and fall week on week.”

The data include short-distance shuttle shipments of crude to a terminal in southern Egypt from where the oil can be pumped via a pipeline to Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean Sea. Of the nine vessels storing or shuttling, two are holding oil long term. That compares with one on Dec. 23 and nine a year ago.

--Editors: John Deane, Dan Weeks

To contact the reporter on this story: Alaric Nightingale in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at

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