Greek ship owners are most likely to be affected by US sanctions on Iranian oil exports, referring to the VesselsValue web portal.
Reportedly, a significant increase in trade volumes could be seen following on the lifting of US sanctions in January 2016, with a seasonal pattern in ton-mile exports post January 2016, with total volumes rising in the autumn months in preparation for higher winter demand.
However, given the volatile nature of the Iran-US relations following on from president Donald Trump's threats to amend and then kill the Iranian nuclear deal, there was a significant drop in total ton mile exports towards the end of 2017, below that of the same period in the previous year.
Within 2018, the seasonality pattern is not repeated and Iranian total ton-miles exports reach a peak by May 2018 in line with President Trump announcing his decision to cease the participation of the US in the Iran deal and to begin re-imposing sanctions following a wind-down period.
The largest export volumes from Iran have consistently been going to China. Although a significant drop off can be observed in December 2017, despite this Chinese imports rebounded thereafter and have been largely stable, which falls in line with China's declaration that it will ignore US sanctions and continue doing business with Iran.
Greek owners still dominate exports, with 81 Greek tankers moving Iranian exports since Jan. 1, 2018.
Nonetheless, the Iranian owner NITC supplies the most tonnage for Iranian exports for now, this is likely to drop off after the last grace period ends in early November this year. The draw of higher freight premiums for Iranian business appears to be quite attractive thus far, particularly in relation to more conventional voyages out of the Middle East. However, it remains to be seen how much risk appetite remains as the sanction regime picks up speed midway through the fourth quarter of this year.
Back in June, the Iranian Oil Ministry called the US efforts to cut Iran oil exports a futile attempt since removing the country's crude and condensate from global market.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also slammed the “nonsense” US decision to drive Iran’s crude exports down to zero in July, saying it would be impossible to let other regional producers sell oil while blocking Iran’s exports.