The newly-formed Al-Iraqia Shipping Services and Oil Trading (AISSOT) venture has taken out a charter on a Capital Ship Management VLCC.
Now known as Basra, the former Atlantas tanker is owned by Greek celebrity shipowner Evangelos Marinakis, according to data from market valuation service VesselsValue.
While AISSOT has not officially confirmed the charter, it is understood by Tanker Shipping and Trade to be true and has been reported as fact elsewhere, along with a charter price set at US$23,000 per day.
An AIS data log showed the vessel’s last voyage to the port of Umm Qasr in Iraq’s southern Basra province. Basra arrived in Iraq on 18 September after departing South Korea on 4 August, some 12 days before AISSOT’s formation was made public. The tanker has travelled 585 nautical miles in the 17 days since it arrived in Iraq, according to its AIS data.
On 16 September, AISSOT completed the first-ever bunker supply in Iraqi waters when the 280,000 DWT VLCC New Discovery loaded crude oil from Basrah Oil Terminal in Iraq on its way to Vadinar Port, India. On 20 September, the group announced it would begin supplying marine fuel using its own bunker barge.
A statement from the group said “AISSOT is poised to further develop the market with [the] introduction of additional bunker barges and [to] achieve a bunker sales volume of 200,000 mt … AISSOT team has [a] vision to become one of the leading marine fuel suppliers in the Middle East region with additions of new ports besides developing Iraqi ports of Basrah, Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr.”
State-owned Iraqi Oil Tankers Company (IOTC) and the shipping company Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Company – owned by Arab states including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait – are joint shareholders in AISSOT. The group said that IOTC holds a 22.5% stake in the company.
AISSOT said in a statement that the company’s formation was “based on [an] Iraqi Oil Ministry vision to further strengthen activities … in the field [sic] of shipping, marine services and oil trading … [and] to develop national oil companies to international levels”.
AISSOT is based in Dubai and plans to open offices in Singapore and elsewhere, according to a Reuters report. It’s the second oil venture set up by Iraq in recent months. Iraqi oil marketer SOMO and Russian Litasco formed a joint trading company called LIMA Energy in May 2017 in Dubai to market crude.
An AISSOT source also told Reuters the company was in a position to invest in and acquire a fleet of crude carriers to transport the “majority of Iraqi crude oil to end users” at competitive prices.