2nd Major Crude Shipment Due in Feb.

2nd Major Crude Shipment Due in Feb.2nd Major Crude Shipment Due in Feb.

Iran's second major shipment of crude oil to international markets after the lifting of sanctions will take place this month, director of National Iranian Oil Company said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Iran will reach plans to raise crude production capacity by 500,000 barrels a day" in the current Iranian year (ends March 19), Rokneddin Javadi was quoted as saying by Shana.

Javadi, who is also a deputy oil minister, said on Saturday three international vessels loaded 4 million barrels of oil from Iran's southern terminals to be delivered to Europe, marking the first of such shipments in years.

Of the total of 4 million barrels, 2 million are ordered by France's Total and the rest are purchased by Russia's second largest oil company Lukoil and Spanish refiner Cepsa.

Earlier this month, Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said the Persian Gulf state had signed deals to export 300,000 barrels of oil per day to European customers since sanctions against it were officially lifted on Jan. 16.

NIOC and Total have signed a deal under which the French oil and gas major will buy 160,000 bpd of crude oil from Iran to be delivered in Europe.

Pirouz Mousavi, head of Iranian Oil Terminals Company, said on Wednesday the Islamic Republic "has for the first time exported more than 7.1 million barrels of oil within 48 hours".

Mousavi said the 7.1-million-barrel shipment includes loading 4 million barrels on European tanker ships within 30 hours, while the rest is bound for the Persian Gulf country's traditional customers.

Iran has ramped up oil output by a total of 400,000 bpd since sanctions were lifted, with 25-30% of oil export hike going to Iran's traditional buyers–Japan, China, South Korea, Turkey and India—and the rest destined for new markets.

The shipment to Europe marked the first time in four years that three international vessels used Kharg Oil Terminal at the same time.

Iran is keen to make room for its additional output and regain the ground it lost to rival producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries such as Saudi Arabia, the group's leading exporters.

Once the second-biggest OPEC producer and now its fifth-biggest, Iran pumped an average of 3.6 million barrels a day in 2011, but sanctions cut its output by around 1 million barrels a day.

Mousavi stressed that Iran will reach its short-term target of raising crude output by 500,000 bpd "in a month". The country has plans to boost oil production by the same amount in six months.