Port Analysis: Bandar Abbas volumes steady ahead of U.S. sanctions
By Bessie Howard on 28 May 2018
Capacity in and out of Bandar Abbas, Iran remains steady in May 2018, ahead of renewed sanctions from the United States.  
  Last week, Swiss carrier Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) released news of their intentions to halt bookings and service to Iran in response to the United States' decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), often referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. 
  MSC, which holds the spot of second largest carrier in the world, is the first carrier to openly state their plans to cease operations to the Mideast country. Many major carriers, including MSC, stopped servicing the country in 2012 as a result of increased international trade sanctions, but slowly returned once sanctions were lifted in 2014. 
  Direct calls to Bandar Abbas were made by MSC starting in December 2015, however the carrier does not currently have any direct services operating to Iran, choosing instead to access the country through feeder vessels via transshipment hubs. 
  According to BlueWater Reporting's Carrier Dashboard, there are currently 11 services calling Bandar Abbas. Iranian liner carrier Hafez Darya Arya Shipping Line (HDASCO), subsidiary to Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), currently operates six of those services, mainly transiting between Asia and the Mideast, and one from Europe and the Mediterranean. 
  French carrier CMA CGM is only other liner carrier which participates alongside HDASCO, joining them on three out of the six services. In total, HDASCO operates 21 Iranian flagged vessels, amounting to 85,828 TEUs. 
  As shown in the chart above using data from BlueWater Reporting, deployed capacity to and from Bandar Abbas spiked significantly after sanctions were lifted and carriers resumed calling the port. By May 2016, capacity into Bandar Abbas rose from 29,820 to 554,959 TEUs, a jump of over 525,000 TEUs from the previous year.  2017 saw decreases in both import and export capacity for Bandar Abbas, approximately 100,000 TEUs less than that of 2016. This year, deployed capacity has remained roughly the same going in and out of the port, staying between 346,000-347,000 TEUs. 
  It remains to be seen if other ocean liner carriers will follow MSC's lead in pulling out of Iran, but if history is any indication, they will likely not be alone.