Iran's Crude Sales to Europe Reaching New Highs
Iran has ramped up oil exports to European customers to 710,000 barrels per day as the country is closing in on the levels it sold to European buyers before international sanctions were imposed.
According to IRNA, Iran used to sell 800,000 bpd to European refiners in Italy, Spain, Greece, Romania, France, the Netherlands and Poland in the pre-sanctions period.
In February 2016, it exported 300,000 barrels of oil per day to European customers namely French oil and gas major Total and Hellenic Petroleum, Greece's biggest refiner.
Europe-bound crude exports rose to 600,000 bpd in June as Russia's Lukoil, Spanish refiner Cepsa, Royal Dutch Shell, Hungary’s MOL, Turkey's Tupras as well as world's top oil traders Glencore PLC and Vitol Group joined the growing list of customers of Iranian crude.
In November, the National Iranian Oil Company started crude oil spot deliveries to Italian oil giant Eni and Saras and exports volume exceeded 710,000 bpd.
Last week, Reuters cited familiar sources as saying that Vitol has clinched a deal with the NIOC to loan it an equivalent of $1 billion in euros guaranteed by future exports of refined products.
On crude sales to the Asia-Pacific region, volume of exports has witnessed an upward trend as Chinese refiners took in 620,000 bpd of Iranian crude during the first 11 months of 2016. Chinese firms are expected to lift between 3 million to 4 million barrels more Iranian oil each quarter in 2017 than last year, trading sources say.
According to a former director for international affairs at NIOC, Mohsen Qamsari, Europe accounts for one-third of Iran's oil market and Asian buyers like India, South Korea and Japan top the NIOC export list.
Qamsari said that South Africa is in talks to resume crude purchases from Iran to feed some of its refineries which are funded by oil majors such as Shell, BP and Chevron Corporation.
South Africa was one of Iran's traditional customers and imported 380,000 barrels per day from Iran prior to the restrictions imposed over the nuclear program dispute.
--- Production, Export
Iran's oil exports, which reached close to 3 million barrels per day in 2011, fell to a little more than 1 million bpd after tougher sanctions were imposed in 2012 targeting its nuclear program.
Following Tehran’s historic nuclear agreement with the world powers in July 2015, several European companies and traders rushed to resume crude imports from Iran. Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh recently said oil output has surpassed 3.8 million barrels per day, 2.8 millions of which are exported.
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in September, "Iran is exporting oil at roughly the same level it was before the introduction of international sanctions."
“Their oil production and oil exports are essentially back to pre-sanctions levels,” Moniz noted. “They are exporting the way they were before and that’s a considerable additional cash flow.”
Unshackled by international sanctions in January 2016, Tehran has steadily boosted supplies as it seeks to retake the share it lost in the global crude market in the past several years.