Iran’s Oil Exports Beat Market Expectations

Iran’s Oil Exports Beat Market ExpectationsIran’s Oil Exports Beat Market Expectations

Iran is selling three times more oil to India even as its rival oil-producing nations try to work out a deal to cap their collective crude production.

“They’ve outperformed what the market expected,” and it’s largely thanks to India, said Amir Bornaee, an analyst at Genscape in the Netherlands, in an interview with Fuel Fix.

The Islamic Republic’s oil exports have surged by 600,000 barrels a day since December, the month before the United States and five other western powers lifted strict economic sanctions against Iran. And so far, India has embraced the country’s return to the market by increasing Iranian imports more than any other country, while Europe’s refiners have been much slower to increase purchases of Iran’s oil, according to Genscape, which tracks oil tanker movement.

All told, Iran’s exports climbed by 140,000 bpd last month, reaching 1.7 million barrels a day, according to Genscape.

Some oil-market analysts believed Iran would fall short of its promise to raise its crude exports from 1.1 million barrels a day exports to 2 million in the first few months after the sanctions were lifted. But, earlier this month, India reportedly agreed to buy a monthly haul of 400,000 barrels a day from Iran starting in April, which would easily bring Iran’s overseas sales above its short-term target. Reuters reported the deal earlier this month, citing unnamed sources.

Iran’s exports to India have climbed from 190,000 bpd in January to 540,000 barrels in March, overtaking Nigeria as the third-largest oil exporter to India, Genscape says.

So far, most of Iran’s export hike to India has displaced Iraq’s and Nigeria’s sales to refineries along India’s eastern coastline.  “Global supply hasn’t been extremely affected,” Bornaee said. “It’s displacing other countries.”

But according to another analyst, Saudi Arabia is unhappy with Iran's soaring oil shipments. “Right now, Saudi Arabia’s biggest political and economic objective is to slow down Iran’s emergence as a major economic player,” even if it means lower oil prices, said Praveen Kumar, executive director of the UH Global Energy Management Institute at the University of Houston, in an April 1 interview. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, who initiated a move with Russia to freeze oil output in February, said it will not cap its oil production unless it is joined by all other major oil producers, including Iran.