| NEW DELHI, July 18
NEW DELHI, July 18 India has extended a
temporary approval to Iranian underwriters Kish P&I Club and
Moallem Insurance Co for covering container and tanker vessels
calling at Indian ports, in a move that should clear a backlog
of non-oil shipments.
The three-month extension is unlikely to revive imports of
Iranian oil as most Indian buyers have halted shipments because
of an insurance issue related to their refineries.
The previous approval given to Kish and Moallem to cover
Iranian vessels lapsed on June 28. Since then Iran-bound
containers of engineering goods, rice, soymeal and other items
have been stranded at Indian ports, while shipment of
fertilizers and other India-bound goods have piled up at Bandar
Abbas port in the sanctions-hit nation.
The approval of the three-month extension to Kish and
Moallem takes effect from the date of the lapse, according to a
shipping ministry letter dated July 17 to the Directorate
General of Shipping and seen by Reuters.
European Union sanctions against Iran from July 1, 2012, bar
members of Europe-based International Group (IG) of Protection
and Indemnity (P&I) - who account for the majority of cover for
the tanker market - from insuring Iranian oil and other
shipments, leading to the emergence of new, untested insurance
India, however, is worried about the financial strength of
Kish and Moallem and has sought government guarantees to back up
the companies, while granting them three-month approvals to
insure ships calling at Indian ports.
India is willing to give long-term approval to the two
insurers if Iran backs them, two shipping ministry sources said.
"It is not possible for Iranian clubs to meet all the
conditions because of sanctions so we had asked them for a
government guarantee," said one of the ministry sources.
Kish and Moallem have sought more time to get Tehran's
backing because the process was delayed by Iran's recent
elections, said the ministry source.
India receives its declining crude imports from Tehran in
Iranian vessels, while exports of non-oil commodities and
industrial goods are largely done on vessels operated by Hafiz
Darya Shipping Lines.
The United States in March imposed sanctions on Kish and
Bimeh Markazi-Central Insurance of Iran, known as CII, for
providing insurance and reinsurance for the National Iranian
Tanker Co, or NITC.
Moallem has been blacklisted by the United States for
providing insurance on the shipments of other goods.
Europe and the United States imposed tough sanctions on Iran
last year aimed at pressuring Tehran to negotiate the curbing of
its disputed nuclear programme.
Most Indian refiners except for Essar Oil have
halted imports of Iranian oil from April this year because of
not being able to insure refineries processing the crude due to
the EU sanctions covering reinsurers.
(Editing by Tom Hogue)