Iran's oil tanker fleet is gearing up for more business, with some vessels taking to the high seas after over more than a year at home ports, another sign that an easing in Western sanctions is enabling exports to begin to pick up.
Iran and Western governments reached an interim agreement in November to restrict Tehran's disputed atomic work in exchange for limited sanctions relief for six months, which came into effect in January.
U.S. and European sanctions imposed in the previous two years had sharply hit Iran's oil exports, mainly by making it difficult for buyers to arrange financing for transactions and insurance and documentation for shipments.
"While many insurers still remain wary of returning to the market given the short six-month window on sanctions relief permitted by the interim Geneva agreement, any perception that the agreement will be renewed for an additional six months, or more, beyond the July 2014 deadline will encourage more to do so," said Mark Dubowitz, of U.S.-based think-tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which supports tough sanctions on Iran.
"Already, we are starting to see NITC ... beginning to make its first journeys in over a year. Any further easing of sanctions may encourage insurers to jump back into the market and allow NITC to come in from the cold."