Concerns over the safety of the Iranian oil tanker fleet has ben rising since all ship classifiers stopped verifying safety and environmental standards for Iranian vessels - a requirement for insurance and access to ports. In November, China Classification Society became the last of world’s top classifiers to quit auditing Iranian tankers. The trend began in April when British classifier Lloyd's Register, the oldest in the industry, withdrew from Iran, citing sanctions pressure.
“The implications are that we have safety critical assets at sea for which the leading experts in safety are not verifying those ships. What is going to be the effect on somebody else's coastline if it goes wrong?” said Richard Sadler, the CEO of Lloyd’s Register. (Reuters, 7 December)
China, India and South Korea still purchase significant amounts of Iranian crude that are shipped to them by Iran. But the loss of major ship certifiers has raised concerns over the quality of insurance coverage and future maintenance of Iranian ships servicing those countries’ ports.
“Even though the trade has dropped, there are still Iranian ships out there trading… When a ship trades outside Iran if it fails because of poor maintenance, because of poor compliance with international regulations, the effect of an oil spill is going to affect other nations,” Sadler said.
The world's top 13 certifiers are all members of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and some of them had provided Iran with cover. The IACS classes more than 90 percent of the world's merchant fleet. There are more than 50 classification societies. Other IACS members, including Germany's Germanischer Lloyd and France's Bureau Veritas have left Iran in recent months.
File photo of an oil tanker (Reuters)