Monday, April 30, 2012

China mulls guarantees for ships carrying Iran oil

(Reuters) - China is considering sovereign guarantees for its ships to enable the world's second-biggest oil consumer to continue importing Iranian crude after new EU sanctions come into effect in July, the head of China's shipowners' association said.

Tough new European Union sanctions aimed at stopping Iran's oil exports to Europe also ban EU insurers and reinsurers from covering tankers carrying Iranian crude anywhere in the world. Around 90 percent of the world's tanker insurance is based in the West, so the measures threaten shipments to Iran's top Asian buyers China, India, Japan and South Korea.

Global crude oil prices have risen nearly 20 percent since October, partly on fears over supply disruptions from Iran.

"(Ship) operators are worried that if the insurance issue cannot be resolved, they will not be able to take orders for shipping Iranian oil any longer," Zhang Shouguo, secretary general of China Shipowners' Association, told Reuters in a rare interview with foreign media. Read More