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Iranian Oil Exports Cut by One Third

Tuesday 18 September 2018

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) — With nearly 50 days to go before new U.S. oil sanctions against Iran enter into force, Donald Trump has already managed to crush the country’s petroleum exports, dealing severe economic damage to Tehran, by plunging Iranian oil exports about 35% since April.

Oil accounts for nearly 80% of Iran’s tax revenue, according to the International Monetary Fund. As oil exports have plunged, Iran’s currency has dived 60% on the unofficial market, pushing up inflation. With early indications that European nations and Japan will stop buying Iranian crude altogether next month, the country’s exports can easily drop another 350,000 barrels a day by November, down to about 1.3 mln barrels a day. South Korea, a major importer of Iranian crude in the past, has not shipped any oil from Iran for 75 days.

Iran is not just losing customers for its crude, as it did under earlier sanctions from 2012 to 2015, but also for condensate. With South Korea not buying any, total Iranian exports of condensate dropped in the first half of September to 175,000 barrels a day, down more than 40% from April.

However, the sanctions are reverberating through the global oil market, pushing benchmark Brent oil above $80 a barrel last week. Even though Russia and Saudi Arabia, which have cooperated closely in oil over the last two years, have offset some of the impact by boosting their own output, traders are betting it will not be sufficient to replace all the losses from Iran.

Iran has tried to offset some of the impact by offering China and India, two countries likely to keep buying at least some oil, to ship the crude using its own tankers at no extra cost, effectively giving New Delhi and Beijing a small discount. So far, it does not appear to be working: in the first two weeks of September, India has loaded just 240,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil, less than half the usual amount. As reported BakuToday, earlier information appeared that the US and India are discussing the possibility of stopping imports from Iran.

Secretary General of the OPEC Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo said that the consortium will support Iran’s economic stability and export of Iranian oil, despite sanctions. Such a decision, he said, was due to the fact that Tehran is one of the founders of the organization and a major supplier of oil.

According to Bloomberg tanker tracker data, Iran now has four supertankers carrying about 7 mln barrels of crude anchored off its main export terminals for at least seven days. Another two tankers with 3 mln barrels of condensate are anchored offshore the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai.

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