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Iran oil exports to plummet in November, then rebound

Reuters/London
Filed on November 7, 2018 | Last updated on November 7, 2018 at 09.47 am
Iran oil exports to plummet in November, then rebound

(AFP)

Major importers scaled back Iran orders pre-sanctions.

Iran's oil exports have fallen sharply since US President Donald Trump said at mid-year he would reimpose sanctions on Tehran, but with waivers in hand, the country's major buyers are already planning to scale up orders again.

The original aim of the sanctions was to cut Iran's oil exports as much as possible, to quash its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and curb its support for militant proxies, particularly in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

But the exemptions granted to Iran's biggest oil clients - China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey - allow them to import at least some oil for another 180 days and could mean exports start to rise after November.

This group of eight buyers imported over 80 per cent of Iran's roughly 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil exports last year, Refiniv Eikon data shows.

"The decision by the US [to grant waivers] represents a departure, for now, from the stated aim of reducing Iran's oil exports to zero," said Pat Thaker, regional director for the Middle East and Africa at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Iran's crude exports have fallen significantly from at least 2.5 million bpd in April, before Trump in May withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions, although estimates vary.

As a result of pre-sanctions pressure by Washington, Iran's oil exports in November may not exceed 1 million to 1.5 million bpd, according to industry estimates. Companies that monitor Iran's shipments are already seeing a drop in tanker activity this month.

"We've only seen 10 tankers loading at, or signalling for Iranian terminals in November so far, which is significantly lower than what we usually see at the beginning of the month," said Kpler, a data intelligence company.

According to Refinitiv Eikon data, Iranian crude exports have fallen to 1 million bpd so far in November.

An industry source who also monitors such shipments said the figure was likely to be on the low side. - Reuters


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