Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Container Services Between Iran and Europe Recommence Sailings

Antwerp Welcomes Back an Old Friend
Shipping News Feature
IRAN – EUROPE – A container ship owned by Iranian shipping frim Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), has made her first two stops at ports in Europe, for the first time since economic sanctions were lifted. The 2,478 TEU carrier Azargoun last week moored at the Antwerp Gateway terminal in the Deurganck dock having left the Port of Hamburg the previous week. IRISL is reopening its regular liner service European Container Line (ECL) between Northern Europe and ports in the Persian Gulf following its closure in mid-2010 on account of sanctions. The new service will be operating with 2,500-TEU containerships, calling at Genoa, Istanbul, Port Said and Bandar Abbas, in addition to Hamburg and Antwerp.

Up until 2010 Antwerp was the main European port destination for Iranian cargo, and now that sanctions against Iran have been lifted, the Port Authority is eager to restore economic relations with the Middle Eastern country, saying that with its large and growing cargo volume of containers and petrochemical products, Iran offers great potential for a port such as Antwerp which lays claim to be the second-largest container port in Europe and home to the continent’s largest integrated petrochemical cluster.

IRISL announced at the end of January that it intended to resume the direct container service between the Persian Gulf and Europe. In the longer term it aims to operate a weekly service with units ranging from 5,125 to 6,572 TEU, but initially it is working with smaller units and a departure frequency of once every two weeks. The container carrier Azargoun left the port of Bandar Abbas on 19 February, arriving in the Mediterranean 10 days later via the Suez Canal. IRISL will send other container and breakbulk carriers to the port of Antwerp in mid-April.

The return of Iranian traffic to Europe after a six year absence was marked by the presence of the President of Port of Antwerp and Chris Adams, head of the Deurganck terminal, principal shareholder of which is DP World, and other port officials, and a plaque from the Port of Antwerp was presented to the ship’s captain by the Antwerp Harbourmaster.

Photo the Azargoun (or Azargoon) moored in Hamburg.