Mumbai: Following the signing of a nuclear accord between Iran and western super-powers on April 2, the decks have been cleared for a revival of a shipping joint venture between the two countries that worked well for most of the 38 years of its existence before its winding-up was unilaterally announced by the Indian government in 2013.
Irano-Hind Shipping had been formed in 1975 as a 51:49 joint venture between Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and the government-owned Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), basically for ferrying crude oil between exporter Iran and importer India. It also owned a handful of bulk carriers.
The company was initially overseen by Ravi Mehrotra, who subsequently migrated to London and set up Foresight Ltd. It was well-run, and paid regular dividends to SCI until the western sanctions against Iran over its nuclear policy crippled the carrier.
Even as the Iranians were keen to continue with Irano-Hind, with or without SCI as partner, the Indian government dithered for a long time on the modus operandi of winding up the company. One of the plans debated was to sell the SCI equity holding to the Iranian government.
However, now that the economic sanctions against Iran have been lifted, it makes eminent sense to revive Irano-Hind. India, the world’s fourth largest oil buyer, imports 75% of its crude oil requirements at a cost of $150bn, but is perennially short of tankers. Iran remains committed to continuing with the company; and the relationship between the two countries could be symbiotic.