DUBAI, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Western sanctions on Iran's
shipping and energy sectors caused serious problems for its oil
industry earlier this year but Iran has mostly overcome those
challenges, Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi was quoted as saying on
Iranian officials usually play down the impact of U.S. and
European restrictions on the country's oil industry, but Qasemi
said that Iran had faced some difficulties selling its oil this
"In the month of Tir (June 21-July 21) there were difficult
conditions for the oil industry," Qasemi was quoted as saying by
Iran's state news agency IRNA.
"One of the problems was the issue of transporting oil ...it
was not possible for any ship to enter our ports."
"On top of this, the insurance for ships carrying crude oil
was taken away ...and the import of many goods used in the
development of the oil industry was banned."
Sales dropped sharply to about 800,000 barrels per day (bpd)
in the June 21-July 21 period but recovered afterward, Mohammad
Reza Bahonar, deputy speaker of Iran's parliament, said in
The International Energy Agency estimates Iran's crude
shipments fell to multi-year lows of 1.07 million bpd in
September but rose to 1.3 million in November, remaining well
below about 2.3-2.4 million bpd last year.
The European Union imposed sanctions in July against Iran's
oil and shipping industries which barred Europe-based insurers
from covering tankers that carry Iranian oil.
New EU sanctions took effect on Saturday which add bans on
financial transactions and on sales to Iran of shipping
equipment, among other measures.
The tough measures reflect heightened concerns over Iran's
nuclear programme, which Western countries fear is aimed at
developing an atomic bomb though Iran insists the programme is
Yet Qasemi said on Sunday that Iran had managed to find ways
to rout the sanctions.
"Following on the imposition of these sanctions, for two
months we had bad conditions. With the planning that has
occurred we have nearly put this ravine behind us," Qasemi said.
"The issue of oil tankers has been solved and today we are
able to export all crude oil."
One strategy which Iran has employed to get around the ban
on European cover for vessels carrying its oil, Qasemi said, was
to establish international cover through Iranian firms such as
"Today we not only insure our own ships, we insure the ships
of other countries as well," Qasemi said.
Europe's so-called Protection and Indemnity (P&I) clubs
account for the majority of cover for the tanker market. These
specialist insurers dominate the market for insuring ocean going
ships against pollution and injury claims.
Kish, founded last year and dependent on reinsurance from a
state-run body to cover liabilities, is a newly created player
modelled on the P&I clubs.
Analysts say one potential drawback for vessels insured by
Kish is that it may struggle to pay claims outside Iran because
the sanctions prevent banks from channeling cash out of the
Iran has said in the past it has allocated billions of
dollars to insure its own oil tankers.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; editing by Jason Neely)