For years ship owners worldwide have had one principal country they are sure they need to avoid dealings with to remain on the right side of the law and their insurers, Iran. This country also happens to have a wealth of potential imports / exports and a huge oil industry, so there was always plenty of work available for ships in the region, had they only been able to take it up. The time has now come for the demand tap to be gradually turned back on.
The US, five other major powers (UK, France, Germany, Russian and China) and the EU have now announced (20 January 2014) that they will begin easing sanctions against Iran and even providing relief to the country. This is in response to actions by Iran to wind down its ability to enrich uranium (and potentially develop nuclear weapons - the source of the sanctions to begin with).
Some sanctions are being suspended for 6 months, with the promise of them and others being lifted permanently if a final agreement can be reached between Iran and the countries on its cessation of uranium enrichment.
The sanctions which are now suspended are significant and include temporary lifting of financial sanctions, and restrictions on the buying and selling and associated services related to Iran's 'petrochemical products' (products derived from petroleum or oil, i.e. processed products). However, it must be noted that some of the highest-level sanctions remain in place in the meantime as normal, such as the block on buying Iranian crude oil and the freezing of the bank accounts of companies associated with the Iranian oil industry.
The full detail and guidance documents on the latest agreement is available here.