CNN: Iran Oil Exports Increase Threefold

CNN: Iran Oil Exports  Increase ThreefoldCNN: Iran Oil Exports  Increase Threefold

Iran pumped 3.64 million barrels per day in May, just four months after sanctions were lifted, according to the International Energy Agency. That is the fastest pace since June 2011, before tougher sanctions were imposed on Iran's nuclear program.

More importantly for Iran's sanctions-hit economy, the country is also shipping tons of more crude overseas.

Waterborne crude exports surged to 2.6 million barrels per day in May, nearly tripling the pace from November 2015, according to research firm ClipperData, CNN reported.

The export strength has been fueled by higher production and drawing down onshore stockpiles.

The country's oil production has surged by 730,000 barrels per day since the end of 2015, the largest gain from any OPEC country.

Now that sanctions are gone, Iran is seriously flexing its oil muscles in hopes of luring back foreign energy companies.

"Iran has been very successful at ramping up crude production since sanctions have lifted," said Julius Walker, senior consultant at research firm JBC Energy. "It remains difficult to say whether they will be able to maintain or grow these levels further."

Iran's comeback creates an interesting dynamic for the shifting supply-demand situation in the oil world.

On the one hand, the additional Iranian crude has helped offset large and unexpected production outages in Nigeria and Canada. At the same time, the already-crowded supply picture is likely to look a lot more congested once those countries get back on track and with Iran's resurging output.

One-third of Iran's crude has been shipped to China this year, according to ClipperData, and other top destinations include India, South Korea and Japan.

"In order for Iran to recover and become a major player in the Middle East, it has to get oil production back up," said Thomas O'Donnell, senior energy analyst at WikiStrat.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh recently said the country's oil output surpassed 3.8 million barrels per day.

He pointed to production that has nearly tripled in the oilfields in Iran's southwest near the border with Iraq.

"They showed their ambition by ramping up on their own faster than people expected," O'Donnell said.

In order to reach their 2021 goal of 4.8 million barrels of daily production, Iran is hoping to attract at least $70 billion of investment under its new Iran Petroleum Contracts.

 The IEA thinks the best-case scenario for Iran is 4.1 million barrels.