An Iranian bitumen cargo aboard a medium range (MR) vessel is on its way to west Africa, in what appears to be the first such voyage in several months, according to Vortexa data.

The MR vessel Maroni likely loaded bitumen from Iran’s Bandar Imam Khomeini port in mid-February, and is signalling its destination as Lome, Togo. It is estimated to arrive there towards the end of March.

The February-loaded export aboard Maroni is the first Iranian bitumen export to the west Africa region observed since October, when the long-range (LR1) vessel Bitu Express also headed to Lome and discharged over the course of December. No similarly large-sized exports were seen loading from Iran during January.

In November last year, Maroni loaded from Iran’s Bandar Abbas port and conducted ship-to-ship (STS) transfers onto other vessels which discharged in Indian ports during December-January.

The top destinations for Iranian seaborne bitumen exports in 2017 were the UAE, followed by India, Oman, Qatar and Malaysia, among other smaller volumes that headed elsewhere. Aside from Togo, last month exports also headed to India, Oman, Qatar, the UAE and Pakistan.