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Iranian VLCC leaves floating storage, first since nuclear deal

London — The first VLCC to leave Iran's floating storage flotilla since a nuclear deal was reached with world powers earlier this week in Vienna is currently sailing in South Asia, Platts vessel tracking tool cFlow showed Friday.

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The National Iranian Tanker Company's Starla, which had been anchored at Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf for 216 days, is the first ship to leave Iran's floating storage fleet since the landmark deal Tuesday.

The Starla, which has a capacity of 2.1 million barrels, is currently voyaging off the coast of Pakistan and destined for Singapore, according to the data.

Since setting sail on Tuesday, the Tanzanian-flagged vessel has visited the Fujairah/Khor waiting zone, where ships often bunker or conduct ship-to-ship transfers.

The NITC currently has a minimum of 19 VLCCs holding crude/condensate at sea -- with an estimated total capacity of 39 million barrels -- all of which have been anchored for a period ranging from around 30 to 260 days.

An additional four NITC VLCCs, which have had their transponders switched off since at least 2014, may also be storing crude in the Gulf.

Platts estimates that the amount of crude oil/condensate that Iran is storing at sea on VLCCs ranges from 40 million to 42 million barrels.

The Iranian crude and condensate currently being held in floating storage could be sold relatively quickly once sanctions against Iran are lifted, while some analysts say some of this oil could be sold ahead of the official sanctions relief.

Analysts at ESAI Energy said earlier this week that given the volume of oil held afloat the market should "expect some minor leakage" before sanctions are officially removed.

Iran is currently exporting around 1 million b/d of crude, less than half the 2.2 million-2.3 million b/d exported before the EU and US imposed crippling oil and financial sanctions in mid-2012.

The only buyers of Iranian crude currently are China, Japan, India, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan.

Iran's oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh has said Tehran can double its exports within months of sanctions being lifted.

--Sierra Highcloud,
--Edited by Jonathan Fox,