Fall in Oil Export Prices Adjusted to Int'l Trends

Fall in Oil Export Prices  Adjusted to Int'l TrendsFall in Oil Export Prices  Adjusted to Int'l Trends

Iranian heavy crude oil prices have dropped in global markets in line with an international fall in oil prices, and not in competition with other OPEC members, said a deputy oil minister.

Iran has cut crude prices in accordance with the global plummeting price of oil, Mohsen Ghamsari, deputy oil minister for international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), was quoted by IRNA as saying.

"The reduction in Iranian oil prices does not mean Iran is offering oil to Asian customers at a discount," he noted.

Iran was reportedly offering its main crude grade to Asian customers at the steepest discount in 14 years, Bloomberg citied those informed of the decision as saying. The report said NIOC cut its price for January light crude shipments by $1.80 a barrel below the regional benchmark as Middle Eastern producers vie to protect market.

Iran lowered the discount for its heavy crude by $3.51 a barrel for January compared with a $1.66 discount for December, according to sources who asked not to be identified due to the confidentiality of the pricing information.

"This relates to technicalities in the global oil market, and not to competition with other OPEC members," Ghamsari said.

The official cited the global economy, supply and demand, and price of other products as factors affecting the price of Iranian oil. "Oil prices fluctuate in accordance with the market conditions, and they are announced monthly."

Oil prices  collapsed after OPEC decided on Nov. 27 to maintain its output target. Brent crude fell from $115.71 a barrel on June 19 to almost $60 on Friday.

  Asia Exports Rise  

Asian imports of Iranian crude climbed above 1 million barrels per day (mbpd) in November, after dropping to a one-year trough below that level in the previous month, as higher seasonal demand during winter boosted purchases.

Arrivals of Iranian crude over January to November jumped 19.5 percent on year, led by India that ramped up imports earlier in 2014 following an easing of Western sanctions over Tehran's disputed nuclear activities, Reuters reported.

Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia failed last month to meet a self-imposed deadline to resolve the standoff, extending the talks for seven more months and pushing back any recovery of Iranian oil exports to higher levels to sometime next year at the earliest.

Under an interim agreement, Iran is allowed to keep exports at about 1 million bpd, versus 2.2 mbpd before toughened sanctions were put in place in 2012.

Western officials said they were aiming to secure an agreement on the substance of a final accord by March but that more time would be needed to reach a consensus on the all-important technical details.

Imports by Iran's four biggest buyers - China, India, Japan and South Korea - have averaged 1.11 mbpd over January-November this year, due to soaring imports by the first two after the partial easing of sanctions.

The four buyers together took in 1.07 million bpd of Iran's crude last month, up 11.1 percent year on year, government and tanker-tracking data showed.

Japan's crude oil imports from Iran in November rose 98.3 percent from a year earlier to 163,223 barrels per day, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) showed on Friday. India shipped in 250,600 bpd of Iranian crude in November, 49 14 percent from a year ago. On average, it has imported 270,100 bpd in January-November 2014, showing a 37.7 percent increase year on year.