(EnergyAsia, April 25 2011, Monday) — Unable to move most of its crude in the face of a tightened Western-led trade sanction, Iran may be storing up to 38 million barrels of crude oil at sea, according to US-listed tanker firm Overseas Shipholding.

The company said Iran may be storing the oil in 19 Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC), each with the capacity to store two million barrels of oil. Overseas Shipholdings’ estimate exceeds those provided by other shipping firms.

Shipbroker E.A. Gibson estimates that the Islamic Republic may be using 16 VLCCs while other industry sources have pegged the number at 12.

Iran is grappling with tougher sanctions imposed by the West to halt its atomic programme.